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Health care is not an insurance

Why covering healthcare costs through insurance does not work.

If we picture a situation where a Tornado might hit my house, very few houses will actually be hit — it’s mostly unpredictable except for some zones with high risk. So we form a pool of a million people who put in a reasonable amount of money to cover the Thousand of homes that will be hit. That’s how Insurance works.

On the other hand Healthcare is not like this at all. People with poor health and illnesses and known existing conditions by analogy would be a group of homes that would be marked with a certainty to be hit by a tornado. We could not really form a risk pool unless we came right out and said we’re going to tax every other homeowner at much higher than their risk, to pay for the houses we know were going to be hit. So healthcare insurance for 24 million people to include people with known conditions cannot come from an insurance pool. For some people who are healthy and young to pay for the high-risk group is no different than a specialized tax on young people who are healthy.

Alternatively to say people should just buy insurance at market price from their income is not workable when Insurance can be 20, 30 or 40% of a person’s income who earns minimum wage. A real solution is to put aside funds from taxpayer money and expect that’s some HealthCare coverage at a reasonable level is provided to everyone irrespective of income. It would be a form of Charity Hospital System where anyone could go in and with a little or no paperwork could get good world class Healthcare. World class Healthcare would not be the high-end, high costs care with every type of procedure, every type of treatment that people now receive.

Experts continue to push the idea that this is some type of insurance with a shared risk. It is not. We can accept that some people have lifestyles that contribute to poor health. We cannot really put them into an assigned risk category and expect them to pay more. The cost is too high now and it’s not like if I give up a pack of cigarettes a day I could pay for healthcare.

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Health care the GOP way

 

As sent to your Republican colleague conservative Rand Paul

The plans to debate a new health care bill follow the same standard federal government approach. This approach makes any federal budget impossible to predict and control. The defense contractors have their “huge entitled funds” flowing freely with calls for more money without any cutting to only fund the most cost effective programs.

Essentially the other “entitlement” laws promise to pay some of the cost of many living expenses to all (poor) comers. More exactly, federal cash is paid to everyone who enters an application to the vast bureaucracy of federal employees, who gather paperwork, and set up payments of billions of dollars. In several programs, funds are paid to an unpredictable number of people who meet each “poor folk” criteria. With only limited control to adjust “benefits”, cash pours out– Housing vouchers, free elementary education (mostly state funds), SNAP, Earned Income Tax Credit (really taxpayer income supplements to allow profit making businesses to pay people less than a living wage) and the current debate on entitled health care. I am conservative in my own spending. I will not borrow money without cutting my costs first. Living this way, I am financially secure except in the case of some health collapse.

To be clear, I do favor federal support for a minimal standard of living for the poorest people which supports necessities, given a higher minimum wage and the opportunity to work for pay that matches the costs to live.

On the other hand money earned by hard work should have a higher value than the government “funny money”, SNAP credit cards, housing vouchers, health care credits, EITC. These federal funds enter the market, compete for goods and services, and raise prices for everyone who uses real cash from their income. As I said, I do favor helping our poorest citizens to have some minimal standard of living in a country with our wealth. The problem is the great bureaucracy to administer the funds and add to vast federal rules and criteria. Another approach: create a total budget plan with a goal of getting entitlement and defense spending to ratchet down each year toward a balanced budget. These two items are the big bucks that we need to trim.

On the defense side, set some priorities and avoid lobby forces from steering money to the same good old boys versus funding only the most cost effective defense projects. Cuts need to be 10% or so each year ramping down to meet a balanced budget in some future year. Companies and their staffs that lose defense related jobs can find private sector jobs possibly during rebuilding our infrastructure.

On the entitlement side, each program needs to GET VALUE for the poor recipients. In SNAP, guidelines and limits on the type of food purchases will alert those using SNAP that earned money can buy some higher cost items that are not allowed for purchase with SNAP. Despite all of the studies on how much money people need for good food, I can find food in the grocery that assures that no one goes to bed hungry at 60 to 70% of current cash flow.

Housing has the same problem, landlords typically get a premium from renting under section 8 versus the market. Again the rental-rate math always disagrees with me, as determined within the great bureaucracy. So before we can “do the right thing” on health care, provide high quality care for everyone. The same idea applies: shut down the bureaucracy that plays the games of fee for service cost control. The federal bureaucrats cut the allowed payment for particular procedures then the providers meet financial goals by running “customers” through more procedures. Each side then spends more resources for staffs to play the accounting games, which add no value for the patient.

On to health care for all– get the Democrats on board who want the poorest to have some minimal life quality and work for better pay, thus they will need less in handouts, (read higher minimum wages tied to cost of living with some local guidelines).

I have studied health care costs and issues since the ACA was first debated. No federal act will be successful without over riding the health care lobby who are successfully keeping the steady inflation (high cash flow to medical providers) which occurs every year. As a parallel, we provide public education for everyone but not everyone gets to attend the pricy private schools that the wealthy attend. A per student payment funds public schools.

For health care for ALL, fairly funded “charity hospitals/clinics/doctors” could have an open door to patients, no co pay, no bills, no reimbursements through the current fee for service bureaucracy. Many people would be served with NO HEALTH CARE INSURANCE needed and no bureaucracy to shuffle volumes of paper.

Facility A has an annual budget to pay all employees, doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. and building overhead. Everyone despite age or income can just walk in or more correctly make an appointment. The federal funding would be a flat amount tied to the number of people served with small regional cost of living adjustments. These “charter” hospitals would pay staff at a level to attract qualified health care professionals. No bills to submit; no adjustments for treating the sickest people; no advertising to try to bring more people in and inflate patient numbers. Hopefully patient decisions are for the best health care with no incentive to inflate costs and by law, no malpractice claims for “good faith” work..

This would be a reasonable approach with high quality care but not “every thing money can buy”.

Lastly, data show that most medicare payments go to patients at the end of their life. Dying people need care without unlimited funds for fee for service payments. I am old. I hope to never have all of my assets or taxpayer funds drained to keep me living “by a thread”.
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added words for my guy Steve Scalise:

In our federal government we are back in the debate over Health Care. The debate over Healthcare goes Way Beyond Health Care. It has hit the heart of underemployed, unemployed, and minimum wage employees. These groups are each in a strata that does not allow enough income to pay for the necessities of life.

Beginning with the bottom of the barrel, there are people who have virtually no income. They can be elderly or unemployed or employed in the cash economy. In any case they show no income for federal taxes and they do not qualify for earned income tax credit.

The next group of people may work full-time jobs, may even work two full-time jobs. The problem is their pay is 7 or $8 an hour and if they work 2,000 hours a year, they do not have enough income to match the cost of living where they live.

So the great bureaucracy has created institutions to make up the shortfall in the underpayment these people receive for their work. The money is fed back through Earned Income Tax Credit which pays back more money than was deposited in their tax account and can be as much as a $2 an hour boost. The food stamp SNAP, program and housing programs can easily add another 2 to $3 an hour to their pay. Now we may add another credit for medical insurance earned medical insurance credit EMIC. How much is that? —$3 or $4 per hour, total $7/hour paid for work, plus the $5 to $7/hour fed back from federal taxpayer/borrowed funds.

Of course the government has many people to manage these programs to collect taxes from some people and run it all through the bureaucracy to poor folks, instead of the low income people being allowed to earn $5 an hour more in the jobs they are holding.

As we move further up the income ladder, there are people with income based on 10-12, $14 an hour. These incomes frequently still do not match the cost for them to live a very modest life and certainly this income will not cover steadily rising medical costs.

So moving from the income side to the expense side, we look at Health Care and it is not affordable for any of these people. We could create an organization that feeds money back such as an Earned Income Tax Credit as an earned medical income credit, EMIC. This still does not solve the problem.

A better solution is to create hospitals that have little or no bureaucracy. They receive an annual budget that can be adjusted based on the number of people they serve. Anyone of any economic level can choose to be treated at these facilities and can choose to go to doctors who are part of this program. With some oversight, only the names and possible Social Security numbers would be turned into verify that the people were treated. There would be no billing for particular procedures. There would be no need for health insurance and Medicaid paper work for all people who choose to depend on the free hospital. Medicare patients could also choose to be served at these facilities.

The private hospitals and the health insurance would still be available for those who want to pay and can afford to pay the “going market rate”. Like the changes I envision for the SNAP program federal supplied money would have purchase restrictions, while money individually earned can allow the wealthy to buy whatever they fancy, expensive wine and even highest cost medical insurance.

The medical providers and their lobby are enraged at the thought of losing steady rising cash flow. The Democrats can join a bill if defense spending and entitlements can each be cut as the past budget cuts proved. Health care cannot be revised without a view to the total budget.
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Poems from My Running Bucket List

From Lahaina Shores

I like the beach in the morning
When the sun is all about dawning
The evening can be fine
With a cool glass of wine
But I like the beach in the morning

The waves are so mellow
When painted in yellow
The quiet and the calm
The escape from life’s storm

The sunlight is so warm
With a sense of no harm

The sun and the sea
The sailboats so free
I love their sight in the morning
When the sun is all about dawning

White waves stir on rocks
There’s no need for clocks
The sun says a new day is dawning

So listen my ear
The tune it will hear
The waves calling out at the dawning
And glance out a far
A few clouds, no more
The sunshine grows with the dawning

What more can I say
The waves win the day
And I’m just a speck
Sometimes quite a wreck
When the waves call out at the dawning

This calm is for carrying
Our souls for the marrying
When we are not here
Replay in our ear
The sound of the beach in the morning
The touch of the sun at the dawning

So go on my way
Ebb tide cannot stay
I like the beach in the morning
When the sun is all about dawning


 

Hootin in the Night

I skipped along as creatures chirpped
And never blushed when froggies burped
I laughed out loud as beer I slurped

So who says there’s bears round hear
Them grizzly giants campers fear
By gosh, I’ll offer them a beer

Three logs are roastin, the fire’s high
I howl and hoot up to the sky
And that full moon may just reply

Now I’m dancing round the fire
To hoot some more that’s my desire
To wake them bears to join my choir

A pause, a sound in the wood
I strained to listen as best I could
Now all was quiet but not all good

My mouth shut down just like a clam
That grizzly bear was quiet as a lamb
He musta smelled my can a spam

Jesus Lord would ya give him a beer
“I’d help you but its dry up here
No 7-11’s anywhere near

My hootin and dancin was about to end
That bear wasn’t gonna be my friend
I’ll never hear chritters chirp again

Then comes a breeze from out that fire
It spins me around, I hear a choir
Six angels wearing signs, “For hire”

Oh God I’ll never slurp again
If them’s real angels you did send
My evil ways I will amend!

Not so fast my Benny Boy
When last you camped you used that ploy
You’ll have to offer me a better toy

Oh, come on Lord, give me a break
I’m kind, and give more than I take
Please bail me out for heaven’s sake

“You’re right BenBoy, I love you dear
I’ll bail you out, have no more fear
Just listen to me my words to hear”

“Now open your eyes and things will be clear
That bear you seeing a’int even here
He climbed right outta that can o beer
You’ll hoot again like you always do
For hootin’s a gift I gave to you”

“Go to sleep and wake again
And skip and dance and hoot my friend”

God


Sent to the Stars

I’d like to touch you with one hand
And drive the dark spirits away

I’d like to whisper in your ear
The perfect words to find and say

To jack you up and lift your heart
Into the sun and sky of day

We’d ride the waves on rolling seas
We’d float and fly and flip and play

The sun and shadows sliding by
To surf and sea the senses stray

Turn back our heads and close our eyes
And feel the air float up so high

Then fly away when sun goes out
And find your star up in the sky
So shine your spirit for the rest
Who roam and search our loneliness

And for that star to guide our ships
To fly again as we once flew

Through seas of summer skies so high
Until the stars of night come out

And shine that light we knew in day
In fields of green in time of play
With open hearts to God we pray

So when you reach that starry sky
Wink down at us, you know we care
Before too long we’ll see you there.

 


 

Cassie’s Rain
I’m sitting on the back porch
I hear a distant train
The whistle says “I’m coming
Through wind and falling rain

My light is from two candles
Who draw air to their flame
Oh shed more light my flickering friend
Is life just a silly game?

Catch the breeze, grow bright again
Dance you flames with faster beat
The dance of life, send out your heat
So I may dance with happy feet

The lightening flares, the thunder sounds
Yet rain brings calm and healing ways
To those who find its subtle beat
By candle’s glow in forest deep

We hear the rain and drift along
And in our time we’ll sing its song
We’ll rise to heaven, when we’re due
And one night we’ll come down for you

In falling rain you’ll hear a voice
That speaks of hope and purest peace
From heaven sent to heal the soul
To wash us clean as Jesus told
With sparkling drops sent from God’s sky
That find our hearts and ask our reply
We send back our love to heavens high
Our heart beat then bye and bye

The sky will grow dark on another day
Await we must, more rain to say
I love you dear in every way
Go fill your life with lots of play

So please know I love you much
I know you hear me, feel my touch
For only joy and no more pain
Is sent to you in sweat sweat rain


From 121nd Street > revised

I’ll write to you from mountains
I’ll write to you from the sea
I’ll tell you of my journey
And how I came to be me

I step along, I feel so free
I’m at the sea and it loves me

I’ll ask ya to be my lassie
To wonder together, but free
We never will be alone now
So long as we come to the sea
We’ll always find our love there
The rolling sea and you and me

I step along, I feel so free
I’m at the sea and it loves me

We watch the stars, we walk the sand
The wind blows us from sea to land
So if you know me, know me now
Beside the sea all’s true somehow

But in your journey why did you stay
So many years to wait for today
For if you know, do tell me so
And fly away to where we know
Our hearts be one our love to grow

We step along, we fell so free
We’re at the sea just you and me

There were our years apart in pain
In sick love with no joy no gain
So now we heal beside the sea
I love the wave that wetted me
If soon we go down to the shore
We’ll be together for rich or poor

We step along, we fell so free
We’re at the sea just you and me

So hear the sea and need no more
Come be my lassie and explore
On I go to the next retreat
In time we may destiny meet
If we share our love of the sea
Come the day together we’ll be

We step along, we fell so free
We’re at the sea just you and me

With wet pants and a big smile on my face—
Ben >> March 2001

 


 

Cozy Days

Something profound
Something from the heart
Words to touch the feelings,
Hands to write the words,

Sliding, gliding fingers
Play a tune without the rime.
Darkly cozy covers
A place of quiet peace
Unspoken touch of lovers
Now isn’t that absurd.

We sing, we dance, we soar, we fly
We quietly hear a lullaby.
Then back to bills,
and bores, and chores,
Why must we go? Why can’t we stay?
From dark quiet covers
We crawfish away.

To love another
That’s the rub.
Where fingers glide
The heart must follow
Or heart will beat
But still be hollow

With chance and joy
And pleasant days
We get to know another’s ways.
As on we go in little plays
We’ll find ahead more cozy days.

 

——————– Cavalier poet–X rated next

 

Lover’s Song

 

censored

 

 

 

Comment to Joe Klein on Ferguson

Time letter to Joe Klein, racist, Ferguson story Sept 1 issue 2014

Dear Joe,

You are a racist!

How dare you say: “Blacks represent 13% of the population but commit 50% of the murders; 90% of black victims are murdered by other blacks.” –blatant racial profiling? Fortunately, no one in Ferguson reads Time.

Oh, wait; you are just stating the data. Your story mentions progress on voting rights and legal progress that should have made life better for black people but you end leaving the reader puzzled on the “why” and what solutions are possible. “Black crime rates are much higher than they were before the civil rights movement.”

Really, I have read your views for years; know that you are a thoughtful liberal minded journalist; know that your step into what I am mocking as “racism” is really a needed blunt comment. So can you join/lead a “candid conversation”?

 

No one cares to state the obvious: Can you research the data and stop calling all people of color “black”. I will guess at the data I am asking for:

Men, who were raised from birth within the programs of the Great Society, –single moms supported by SNAP, Section 8, welfare, and the cash economy funds of their revolving male partner, represent 1% of the population (?) (The other 12% of blacks live responsible lives working and paying their bills). This 1% commits 90% (?) of the black-on-black murders and my guess is that they are 90% of the bodies of young black men that the society picks up off the street each year.

Poverty is not a crime; child neglect is. We need to change the society to prohibit the occupation of irresponsible mom supported by the government raising their meal-ticket children who really live on the street. Just having babies is not an end in itself. Learning to parent (not following the past bad home-life examples) and participation in the child’s development, attendance at school meetings, using SNAP privileges wisely could be required to keep your child. Irresponsibility should lead to loss of benefits and transfer of children to state facilities where caring people would develop them. Such a drastic program reeks of racism; who would even dare to develop and state these data? My bet is with a pilot program, the group moved to the old time orphanage would have fewer dead bodies to pick up.

We know as Americans with freedom that we have the right to bear arms. As it stands today, we have the right to bear children and we can get paid to do that.

 

So the “why” can be answered? The civil rights movement brought us the Great Society programs. The working people of color were not asking for a handout, just fair access to education and jobs. Even today I believe most people of color would vote to end or change these programs and end the high murder rate of that tiny segment of similarly colored people who they see on the news every day. So I end knowing that “candid” did not include racial genocide of ending free birthing of one race of people. But wait, Great Society free birthing applies to black and white and any racial mix we can label.

 

Socialism = Take from the Rich, Give to the Poor

Socialism = = Take from the Rich, Give to the Poor? June 23, 2014

 

The debate about income and wealth inequality comes in and out of focus generation after generation. At this moment, I will try a new looking glass to understand rich and poor concepts of socialism.

As much documented, 1% of people hold and control 35% of wealth, the next 19% hold 53% of wealth. Give me some socialism, please! Go after that pot of wealth and hand it out to the poor folks. The Pope, President Obama, Fareed Zakaria, the French economist and author Thomas Piketty and some think tanks have suggestions on how to do that.

So we have the 1% of people holding thousands of big pots of money measured in Billions of dollars and the poor people who number in the millions have inadequate money to cover basic needs. Maybe some tax (socialism) could move that money around, get poor people spending it, and raise all boats? A quick fix to wealth inequality, –the masses vote for programs to use tax dollars and provide housing, food, and a spring time shot of cash if you work for low pay and/or low hours and file a tax return (since 1997, earned income tax credit) ? In the US we already have those programs and wealth inequality keeps growing.

 

The founding fathers of our country stressed “no work—no food”. These founding fathers would feel that today’s programs are not fair, rich people earned their money, some choose to give it away, but that should be their choice. Which view is right? Let me become the judge and jury.

Fair Taxation

“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

Ben Franklin—( lived before the Earned Income Tax Credit)

Not long ago, kings collected tribute from the peasants or the peasants worked the land for the king’s benefit. You might even call that “tax the poor and give to the rich”. The founding fathers rebelled against English taxes and thus the no work -no food motto applied to the colonies which included some people who came over as royals. It can be argued that in 1776 there was no income inequality, only a middle class, everyone began on the same starting line (Indians and slaves did not count).

Many fortunes grew during the industrial revolution and from high farm productivity with cheap labor, slaves. Some fortunes were built by a few hard working smart people who built the nation with factories that relied on cheap labor for production of goods affordable by many people. This model of owning the business and paying the workers the minimum wages was not so different from the king and peasant model. Dread taxes were kept to a minimum and government was small.

Everything began to change 100 years ago when federal income tax was put into law. The evolution of the tax code was described by Andrew Beattie and tax changes match the rise of income inequality and swings in who pays taxes.

“So the 16th Amendment was introduced in 1913 to pave the way to an income tax by removing the proportional to population clause, thus saving the poor souls at the IRS from the unemployment line. It was quickly followed by an income tax on people with an annual income of over $3,000. This tax touched less than 1% of Americans.” ^

^  A Concise History of Changes in U.S. Tax Law, By Andrew Beattie, April 2, 2010

“By 1940, the need for the U.S. to prepare for war and support its allies led to even more aggressive taxation. People with incomes of $500 faced a 23% tax and the rates climbed up to 94%. By 1945, 43 million Americans paid tax and the yearly receipts were in excess of $45 billion, up from $9 billion in 1941.”^

 

“Despite this, the IRS announced that in 1985 more than 400,000 Americans had reached the millionaire rank thanks to the high-level tax cuts under Reaganomics. In 1986 another tax reform act lowered the top rate from 50 to 28% and cut corporate tax from 50 to 35%.” ^

If these 400,000 people had an average annual income of $100,000, the cut in tax rate from 50% to 28% would equal $40B x .22 or $8.8B/year less tax- more in the millionaire pockets.

With all the gaming of tax rates, loopholes, and expanded federal spending, the budget was balanced just 14 years ago when Bill Clinton left office. Historically, when wars caused a shortfall in revenue, short term taxes were increased to pay the bills, pay off the war debt.

The reverse was true when the Bush administration cut the highest tax rates and began incurring costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Social programs still got their cash since they were formula payouts from an invisible hand. A bad economy and more poor people equaled more socialism. The world banking system had evolved to support foreign debt as the funding approach. Spending that is written into dozens of laws created a cost side that operates outside of the revenue side. The idea of taxing only the rich shifted to creating tax loopholes and getting historically low amounts of tax from the rich.

The masses of workers in our democracy can only vote for the priorities for government spending via their elected representatives. In principal, the masses could vote for more income equality (higher minimum wage) and enact laws to tax the very rich at 50%, 70%, even 94% and expand social programs –give to the poor.

If you are rich you better spend some discretionary income to keep the elections going your way and not let some clever leader unite the peasants and take your stuff. So use your money wisely: fund the election of your guys, fund a large military to prevent foreign or internal invasion, and keep the poor people dumb, fed, housed, and maybe even on drugs.

 

Federal Spending

The US Federal budget is a massive collection of check writing, bank wire transfers, tax collections, tax loopholes, and borrowing to send out more money than is coming in. What are we the people buying and what are we getting for our money?

Some past number 2006:

  1. Health care   $511B
  2. Social Security $544B
  3. Defense and Military $400B
  4. Food and Housing for the Poor $103B
  5. Foreign Aide?
  6. Homeland Security $150B
  7. Agricultural Subsidies?
  8. Education

The 2012 numbers are available but the relative numbers are only changing due to ending two wars.

  1. Health Care

“It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.” Dad original was “handsome … ugly”

Everyone wants health care. The older you get the more you will need. Those getting the service and those getting the checks are all voting “yes” to this spending.

Q1. Is the amount of spending right? Q2. Who should be paying? Q3. Should poor people get poor healthcare? Q4. Should rich people and high-end, state-of-the art medical facilities operate in an exclusive market for those who have the money to pay for preferred access? Q5. How should the VA budget fit into the market?

Amount of Spending

This is not a line item for the voter or an elected official to approve. The dollars flow somewhat without limit under “guidelines” in the past laws covering Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and the new Affordable Health Care Act. With zero federal funding, no wealth would equal no health care for many.

 

The health care market would be much smaller and fewer practitioners would serve only the people who could pay. Costs would be capped by individual household budgets and I believe all services would cost less. The poor would get sick and die or find some volunteer clinic to treat them at minimal cost—virtually no “drain on the society”. This approach would run the socialists out of town!

Affordable Health Care attempts to use the name to magically cap the cost while expanding guidelines and including every living being in its coverage. If the government placed some legislated real cost cap, like the per-student funding of public education, for example $2000 per year for every living person, would the providers sign up all takers? My bet is “yes”. The poor people with the worst health would be treated maybe with a secret maximum provider expense of $5000 per year via controlled and limited services. Somehow, everyone would have to “stay happy” and live or DIE by the budget.

Well not really everyone—if you have the money you can order whatever service you want at the hospital (designer drugs, new breasts, or sex therapy from a prostitute) and maybe you can even bid on a heart or kidney to help balance the cash flow against the pittance that the healthcare provider is accepting under the $2000 per head fee. Dying billionaires may get all of the hearts for transplants, but their high bids add cash flow to hospitals and thus would “promote the general welfare” of the society.

In conclusion, neither the voters nor their elected officials have set any limits on health care spending. There is no special tax on the rich to pay for the bill. Instead the cost is to be paid by “robbing from the well to give to the sick.” The cost control idea is to dig into every medical situation and set payments without setting any limits on how many items can be put on one patient’s bill- i. e. there is NO annual $ per patient federal cap. Clear winners are those who cash the checks and each year bring in 10 to 15% more cash flow. Is socialism to be measured on the services provided to everyman with assumed value or on the income recipients cashing the checks? It is hard to find the rich who can pay their way wanting to put any extra money in the pot.

 

2. Social Security — an aside

“Is that like having guaranteed friends?” Facebook Founder

 

Everyone wants to have enough money to live when they retire. The most wealthy people with large bank account and growing stock accounts are sure to live well, not so for the poor.

These social security funds are really outside of the federal budget, but money is still taken from your paycheck to fund the cash flow. The Social Security Administration direct deposits money to checking accounts for the elderly to be able to pay their bills. The money has been collected during the working years from these people and supposedly is not part of socialism’s tax-and-spend approach. The structure is insurance (somewhat a socialist concept) with shared risk; it is not an annuity or an individual retirement account where each person gets their money back.

 

Flaws happen. Cheaters may collect beyond their fair share. The poor people, smokers, the obese may die young and in effect transfer money to the healthy rich and the middle class who live longer. A shortfall of funds due to a longer life of baby boomers may force those paycheck withholdings (not a tax) up for the young working people to pay for the retired people. Poor people who “beat the system” and live longer than the average poor (with affordable health) may qualify for federal budget funds from Health and Human Resources to pay their food and housing bills. If Social Security fails you socialism will save you.

 

3. Defense and Military

“Nothing from nothing leaves –nothing.” Billy Preston

 

If you are poor, own no land, no stock accounts, no lavish estates, you have nothing to defend. If you are part of a whole society that has no rich people, who would want to invade your country and kill you? (Maybe China in Tibet just seeking land? Or the US attacking North Korea as their propaganda says just because “we do that”? Or foreign terrorists looking to attack US targets, big assets, for Allah?)

If I am rich or very rich, I have the money and the interest to push for a high defense budget. This is a form of insurance. My assets are worth $-billions, therefore government protection funded by everyone paying taxes is like paying a flat rate insurance premium where I pay the same as the middle class. A more fair idea would be to cap defense and military spending at some relative value considering the suggested health cost cap $2000/yr/person, and have billionaires add to their present private security forces. More in the spirit of community, the very rich could pay an asset tax dedicated to fund the A+ military that they need. The present socialistic system has the middle class paying the bill for the rich.

 

4. Food and Housing for the Poor

“Now we are talking full socialism baby!” Marks

 

Me, a Middle Class Guy is feeding and housing you and your babies who are doing nothing to help yourself. The very rich can afford keeping the poor alive to work for them at minimum wage. With a defined “poverty level” setting guidelines for benefits/payments, these programs, like health care, have no cap, no voter approved budget. If lawmakers want to reduce this “rob from the rich” action, they can monkey with the guidelines to reduce food subsidies and housing vouchers. Cut the cash flow and in theory more people will line up to work at McDonalds to make $8/hour. I like that, help the rich owners of the Mickey Ds cash cows, keep making a buck off of the poor workers. Then there is HUD housing– the rich and very rich landlords get direct deposits of rent payments. Mr. Landlord will vote for that kind of socialism.

If Middle Class Guy feels victimized in giving his income to poor folks, he can buy a Mickey Ds or buy and rent out section 8 housing, or sell over priced groceries in bad neighborhoods for SNAP payments. Foreigner immigrants, not having big bucks to buy a franchise, can open the high priced convenience store and take the neighborhood crime risk to be able to slightly climb the income ladder.

There are ways for poor people to be a net winner (more income from the government than taxes) as the taxpayers pay in “funny money” for their food in a SNAP and their affordable housing plus the Earned Income Tax Credits give out spending cash. Add in some untaxed work for cash and the poor people get by. They may even have some fun money to spend maybe on lottery tickets, really a 50% tax rate on those who dream of being rich. The rich meanwhile can bet on the stock market. It stocks start falling the taxpayers will bail out the companies. Then the tax rate on stock gains is much less than on lottery tickets. Solution is to make those tax rates equal, 50% or maybe 40%.

 

5. Foreign Aide

This is a favorite item for budget cutting. It does not have a catchy name.

 

I did not find the dollar number but it is nothing like the big items. The picture can be of the benevolent US citizen helping the foreigner as we would from our personal funds after a natural disaster. Dig deeper and the money fits best under the defense department. Managing risk of world chaos that would hit the global economy is the goal. Much of the money is used to buy American made weapons and the defense contractors cash the checks. As outlined above, the very rich are getting much more value from these US interventions than the average middle class guy paying a share above his benefits.

 

6. Homeland Security

Living at the top of the wealth pyramid, you need the most security to avoid being knocked off.”

 

This is another name for Defense and Military. The idea is a lot like marketing Coke and Original Coke. People will buy more Coke if they think they are getting two different things. Who would be against “Homeland Security”? -“Affordable Healthcare”? –the “Patriot Act”? Do government agencies pay marketing /ad agencies to find these names? If some anti marketers can do de-branding, change Affordable Health Care Act to the non-word, “Obamacare”, can poor black folks with kids dying daily from gun shots find an ad agency to rename/de-brand “Homeland Security”?

 

7. Agricultural Subsidies

“If you grow it, they will eat it.” Fields of Dreams

Inversely, if you don’t -they won’t, but you can still get a farm insurance-socialists type check.

This socialism is getting old!

No one has any idea about who is approving, paying, and maintaining the present cash flow of the federal government. You can account, and account, and account and never find the cross cash flows, the net beneficiaries of the huge federal dollar spewing.

Check the Mickey D owners meetings, the NFL owner meetings, the hospital CEO conventions or go to their meetings with lobbyists. What you can track is that Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of the “free market” is dealing more dollars to the very rich each year. Under our present socialism, the rich getting richer, and the stock market growing in value while the minimum wage and the overall economy stay stuck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE s1 Budget Totals

Billions of dollars
Actual
2006 2007
Receipts 2407 2540
Expended 2655 2784
   Deficit 248 244
Security 474
Non security 369
Total Discretionary 843
   net interest
Global war on terror 120.4
Hurricane response 20.7
141.1
by agency
Defense 410.7
Health & Human serv 69.1
Homeland Sec 30.7
Housing and Urban dev 34.1
non- discretionary
social security 544
Medicare 325
Medicaid 186
Other 357
1412
Budget deficit 248
Changes in debt 549
Total govt debt 8425
debt as % of GDP 37

 

 

 

Table 2: Distribution of net worth and financial wealth in the United States, 1983-2010

Total Net Worth
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1983 33.8% 47.5% 18.7%
1989 37.4% 46.2% 16.5%
1992 37.2% 46.6% 16.2%
1995 38.5% 45.4% 16.1%
1998 38.1% 45.3% 16.6%
2001 33.4% 51.0% 15.6%
2004 34.3% 50.3% 15.3%
2007 34.6% 50.5% 15.0%
2010 35.4% 53.5% 11.1%
Financial (Non-Home) Wealth
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1983 42.9% 48.4% 8.7%
1989 46.9% 46.5% 6.6%
1992 45.6% 46.7% 7.7%
1995 47.2% 45.9% 7.0%
1998 47.3% 43.6% 9.1%
2001 39.7% 51.5% 8.7%
2004 42.2% 50.3% 7.5%
2007 42.7% 50.3% 7.0%
2010 42.1% 53.5% 4.7%

Total assets are defined as the sum of: (1) the gross value of owner-occupied housing; (2) other real estate owned by the household; (3) cash and demand deposits; (4) time and savings deposits, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts; (5) government bonds, corporate bonds, foreign bonds, and other financial securities; (6) the cash surrender value of life insurance plans; (7) the cash surrender value of pension plans, including IRAs, Keogh, and 401(k) plans; (8) corporate stock and mutual funds; (9) net equity in unincorporated businesses; and (10) equity in trust funds.

Total liabilities are the sum of: (1) mortgage debt; (2) consumer debt, including auto loans; and (3) other debt. From Wolff (2004, 2007, 2010, & 2012).

 

 

How do the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Poorer?

How do the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Poorer?

Reports from economists around the world continue to post data about the widening gap in income or wealth between the “richest” and the “poorest” people. A measure of income or wealth (IW) is the standard of living or access to material goods that range from the basics of food and shelter to the luxury of multiple homes and the finest cars. My writing today explores the factors that affect the “gap” in IW that has developed within many different societies and forms of government.

While this topic plays well in the current mass media, the history of man has always included a high standard of living for the few kings and lords who ruled over the peasants and the tribal chiefs who had more than the average Indian. Dominance in the form of mental power or personality power and manipulation or propaganda was used to shape the society in favor of the royal class. Unlike the modern elected democracy, there was no pretense of equality and fairly shared resources. The over throw of the kings by communists or socialists or revolutionists was led for the most part by leaders with the power of personality to stir the masses and drive the change.  While many of the wealth holders were stripped of their land and other resources, the new leaders usually took good care of themselves and their inner circle.

If today’s economists were able to construct the wealth distribution graph, the government over throw scenario would be like an earth quake in shifting the names on the biggest bank accounts and the owners of property. Unfortunately, the group with the least wealth would still be the same people who might get a hand out but their “increased wealth” would be temporary.  If the over throw resulted in less total production, due to the loss of the king’s management skills, the new socialist leaders could live like kings and the peasants could actually have less.

In a democratic society, some of today’s most wealthy citizens/political leaders want to cry “socialism” when government programs are branded as “wealth redistribution”.  They argue that taxes which flow into social programs hurt economic growth and jobs for everyone, even the poorest who could work and support themselves. The argument goes that higher taxes on the wealthy will lower total production and create unemployment with less for everyone.  How does that work? If the marginal tax increase resulted in an equal reduction in wealthy citizen’s re-investment to grow jobs and production, the argument might hold. On the other hand, if the tax increase hurt this wealthy person by preventing his purchase of a fifth home, the only loss would be in the jobs to build his new (empty) home, not in his job creation and business growth.

The Man Climbing the Wealth Mountain

So I said this is about getting richer or getting poorer.

If I am rich and own many resources, like land, oil fields, even just bunches of stock, my climb has little or no slope. I just have to use these advantages and “get richer”. Of course, government policy can have a great impact on my path. The tax on my income from these assets could make my continued assent on Wealth Mountain, a bit slower. It will certainly be worth paying for the services of a lobbyist and keeping guys in elected office who help me, but I have lots of money for that. The rich man’s decision to spend some marginal income on staying wealthy is much smarter than risking a fall from the mountain, or even a slowed assent to the top. This premise is based on my observation of the huge TV ad campaigns that bombard the public with comments about health care reform, the value of particular industries, and the need to elect certain candidates to save the democracy, really “keep me wealthy”.

If I am not rich, no big deal, follow the American Dream, work hard, spend wisely, and you too can climb Wealth Mountain. So “work hard”; early on “get an education”. So the poor man’s path is via public schools and most urban public schools do not appear to educate hardly anyone! The rich man’s path is via private schools which stay in business by measured success in educating. Now arrives the public charter school; a hope for a school form that matches the private model in “educate or close”. More correctly, the charter school is run by capitalists seeking revenue from winning a charter and having a few years to show that education is happening.

Here in New Orleans, I am still hopeful about charter schools; nevertheless, thousands of poor students have passed through the doors of charter schools that failed to educate them and the school managers lost their charter. So much for getting an education; maybe some on-the-job training will get you on the path to climb the mountain.  More likely you are poor and will get poorer as jobs will pay you very little due to an oversupply of you uneducated dummies. The great society birth rate continues high for the poorest, so the oversupply of low wage labor from failing public schools will help the rich owners of the pizza chains to get richer from the work of cheap labor.

Now let’s say you got into a good public school district and worked and borrowed money for college and graduated and are well prepared to climb the Wealth Mountain. You even got a degree in a tech field. If you were really poor you can become much richer. The poor getting rich scenario; not exactly, you will get less poor. You will not have funds to hire lobbyists and own several houses as long as you work for corporate owners who control the labor market. It will be more than a one-in-a-billion chance that you join the top 1%, who control 35% of the wealth. Still many people can join the middle class even though that wealth level is declining. One-in-a-billion can become self-employed in a field, usually law, which allows the assent maybe to the top 10%. Then there is Oprah.

Two ways to get much richer: 1. Make a much bigger pie and eat your share, 2. Work through policies, laws, rules so you can eat a bigger share of the existing pie. Bill Gates and his early team built software that led the PC to improved productivity in all business endeavors. His fair (monopoly driven) share of the pie was measured in billions. Like Bill Gates, many of the 1% wealthiest earned their way to the top. Bernie Maddoff entered into a complex financial world and found a con to steal funds from some wealthy and some just rich. Bernie became wealthy while it lasted. Other legal players in the complex financial markets found their way to the top of Wealth Mountain by designing and then exploiting the fine points of investment banking. Their climb was all legal, but did it make a larger pie or allow them to eat a larger slice of the existing pie via banking regulations? Many of the climbers reaching high on Wealth Mountain are in field where the rules effectively provide them with passage ways to the top.

Maybe I should take this narrative back to Africa. With the right organization I can become a dictator, hire and arm troops who get paid and live relatively well by keeping the poor as working poor, while I am standing in line cashing in on the mineral resources they are mining and conspiring with the foreign minerals buyers to trade minerals for guns and grow my personal wealth.

Alternatively, you can become the lord of your own drug empire right here in the USA, arm yourself with the smartest public school dropouts, and get legal support to stay out of jail and banking deals to launder the money. Your fair (monopoly) share of this big pie will lead you well up Wealth Mountain at least in high lifestyle, if not the biggest foreign bank account. Of course do not expect to match Bill Gates or Oprah, but you will in financial terms, “out-perform” the tech college graduate who went from poverty to the middle class.

Are There Solutions in Africa, Russia, Mexico, USA?

I hope the limits of my words do not suggest that one country has a monopoly of “wealth mountain excursions”. The US model shows that democracy does not lessen the disparity in wealth within a country. Fundamentally, all countries have very wealthy people who are skilled at preserving and growing their wealth. In terms of government policy and fair taxing, policy needs to prevent clever players from eating more and more pie without creating more productivity.

Some particulars are tort reform, banking reform, tax loopholes, and all kinds of regulation that beget more need for legal action and a bigger piece of pie for those who serve these “society balancing” roles versus working to grow the economy.

In terms of education, I have a dream that one day white and black children will attend urban public schools that are non-violent and educate all of them. Education needs to begin at home and parental responsibility needs to be an enforceable public policy.

In preserving the democracy, some cap on funding for lobbyists and propaganda TV ads needs to be put into the constitution.  TV ads which seek to win approval for a candidate or the passage of a bill must disclose where these vaguely named organizations get funded. If we cannot track the cash flow of drug money in an international drug market, how can we prevent foreign millionaires from getting their chosen candidates elected to keep them rich?  Does Saudi Arabia put money into some TV ads? Present law says we are not allowed to know.

 

Campaign to Make Gun Violence a Public Health Issue

For several years following the return to a high murder rate in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I have researched studies on preventing homicides by guns. I have quite a file of saved papers and I am designing a public health campaign to try to stop the murders at their source.  The pitch is a mix of exploring “the life of a gun”, the denial by the loved ones of the victims and shooters, and the concepts used in public health work on suicide prevention by recognizing the behavior signs. The idea is to produce TV ad shorts, 20 to 30 seconds, with the message of murder prevention by not harboring guns.

 

Example 1 – Stop that bullet. A gun fires; the flying bullet moves toward a victim then the bullet freezes just before a victims head. Try to imagine that the gun is a cocky cartoon character with a life of its own. Cartoon scenes flash to a clock and the gun’s “activity” during the last 24 hours—the gun walks into his home, he hides in a cozy place, maybe even fills up on some bullets from the pantry. Then he gets into a car that drives him around, he has a drink at the bar.   Next we see the crying relatives, just like the daily news, at a crime scene. Now freeze the scene. You can stop the bullet. Do not give a home to gun violence!

 

Example 2 – Begin with parts of the “life of the gun” cartoon– Free loading in your home. Going out late at night all dressed up, driving to the club. Coming home wasted and bullets spent! The noise wakes a sleeping parent from a dream. Her son is in a coffin! The parent takes action finding the gun’s location and evicting it. Go to the parent even calling the police to remove the gun. Maybe the son from the coffin is leaving handcuffed with the police. Shot of the coffin–Getting on the right track takes work, community support, and time but death lasts forever.

 

Example 3 – The gun cartoon is driving around town– speeding, running stop signs. The police pull the car over and we see a young black man. The police ask about guns and drugs and get a “no”. We see the gun cartoon laughing. If the police cannot search your child’s car then you must.

 

The TV shorts can be part of a series of public service ads that try to shock parents into being the first step in gun control. When we see news of murders every day, the shock goes away and so these ads need to have a sting. As with addictive codependence, there will be an offended group who want to stay in denial about their role. Soft selling the murder rate as some societal disease adds to denial and keeping guns free to kill.

  

I have many studies on file by request.