Heath Care Costs (OR The next upward redistribution)

October 22, 2008

On the heels of all the graphs I posted below, Ezra comes up with a couple of his own. This time, though, the topic is health care. I’ll let Ezra explain:

The following chart tracks the budget deficit as it’s projected to grow over the next 50 years. The blue line — that’s the one shooting up — is what we expect our deficit to actually look like. Those other lines, the one’s going down (and down means no budget deficit, but instead a surplus), show what would happen if our health spending were equivalent to that of other rich nations like Japan, Germany, and Canada

Now, given this is the Federal Deficit, I don’t imagine it would decline as much (if at all) since the Government always manages to find ways to waste huge sums of money. Still, that run up is significant, and much of it will come from increased expenditures in health care. And, since we all pay into the Federal coffers to provide Medicare this will have the effect of redirecting our tax dollars into the health care sector.

So, just has our government’s inaction over the last few decades has all but forced us to give huge sums of money to energy companies, our government’s inaction right now will, inevitably, force us to give huge sums of money to insurance companies and health care providers.

And, as my previous post demonstrated: we don’t have any more money to give.

This is getting ridiculous.

Commodities (OR Back room dealings)

October 8, 2008

Fresh Air had a great interview with Antonia Juhasz about commodity trading, and the impact of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (yet another wonderful legacy of Phil Gramm). Juhasz’s argument is that the CFMA created, in essence, unregulated shadow markets for the trading of commodities (like oil), which has enabled oil companies to, among other things, withhold supply. It also opened the door for speculative trading.

The interview is well worth listening to, but that’s not the only reason I mention it…

I thought the timing was interesting after the question in last night’s debate about whether the candidates believe that health insurance should be treated as a commodity.

Listen to the interview and then think about the implications of that question.

Re-Starting (OR Finding motivation)

July 24, 2008

I’ve talked a little about my dwindling enthusiasm for constantly reacting and responding to the goings on in the world. I can’t say that much has changed… although, it seems that some of that apathy was the result of various other disenchantments in my life.

First and foremost, my job. I haven’t said much about it, and that won’t change. But, as of Tuesday next week, I won’t work there anymore. This is a good thing. I’ve taken a new job, which promises to be challenging, and I love me a good challenge. :)

This job change is going to have a couple real-world impacts for me…  first, I probably won’t be able to take public transit to work anymore. Fortunately, I have an efficient car that will still cost less to drive than to buy an RTD pass. Still, I’d prefer to take pubic transit, but the limitations of RTDs system make it highly inefficient to travel by bus between home and work.

On a related note, Marketplace on Tuesday included a story about GM’s investment in an infrastructure that could support electric cars. This is a good thing, especially on the heels of Al Gore’s challenge to us. Still, GM engineer Britta Gross said:

This has the potential to get you 40 miles. That’s really great to know that you can do your commute on just electric drive. It has an energy storage capability and it’s going to be a much more affordable battery.

The same story notes “the Volt will still cost $30-40,000.”

Is it just me, or is this the equivalent of saying that 35 mpg is impressive? Compare this to the Th!nk city, which claims to be able to go 110 miles per charge and will be available in Europe for $31,388 USD.

Anyway, the new job thing…  the other impact is that I need to shop for health insurance. My employer doesn’t have a group policy, so I’m headed out into the individual market for insurance. My initial forays are not really encouraging. All the plans seem the same, and don’t really provide any sort of reassurance that your health care costs will be controlled. Now, this probably isn’t any different than the insurance I have now, but now I know it, and even in this wonderful “free market” I have no choice.

Even worse, I stumbled across this site. It has responses to satisfaction surveys for health insurers in Colorado. Go ahead. Take a look. Tell me how many companies you have to look at before you find one with more positive feedback than negative.

Anyway, I’m hoping the new job will re-energize me so I’ll be more inclined to blog here. The downside, of course, is that the new job probably won’t allow me nearly as much time to actually blog here.

Well, we’ll see. For now, I’m happily suffering from short-timer’s syndrome. :)

Seconded! (OR Rambling thoughts, Healthcare to Veep)

June 10, 2008

Dave is kind enough to mention the news that Sen. Obama will be partnering with Elizabeth Edwards on Health Care policy/reform/etc…  This is, in fact, good news. I don’t really know how good, but it is good. Dave points to a couple of Ezra’s pieces, which are a good starting point…  you should also read these posts from Elizabeth Edwards herself.

Anyway, onto the quality of this goodness…  as I understand it, E. Edwards pushed her husband very hard to propose a single payer system, rather than the hybrid he eventually decided upon. Because of the vagueness of the partnership, we don’t know what this really means…  Is this just a promise to include E. Edwards after winning the election? I don’t really see how it can help Sen. Obama in the general election. It may solidify support on the left (which, really, seems bound to happen regardless), but this could open him to stronger attacks from the right.

Or, perhaps, as Dave hints, this is an opening foray into Edwards as Veep, about which I would also be excited.

Right now, though, the Veepstakes are very muddled (as they should be)…  which leads me to the singular Veep thought that runs through my brain every time another name comes up:

If we are, in fact, at the beginning of a growing, long-term, country-wide shift to the left…
And we believe that Barack Obama will preside over a largely successful Presidency, with a Democratic congress behind him…
And that, perhaps, this election (and perhaps subsequent ones) will alter the electoral landscape…

Shouldn’t the VP be someone who can continue down the path that Sen. Obama is taking us?

To me, this means a couple things. One, someone who will continue to pull the country left (which probably disqualifies a self-declared Reagan Democrat, like Jim Webb). Two, someone young enough to still be young enough to run in 8 years (which disqualifies people like Gov. Sibelius, Sen. Clinton, Sen. Biden, Sen. Dodd, etc).

Now, I don’t know enough about the political landscape, or the possibilities to offer my own suggestions, so I’ll just repeat others.

Obviously, there’s Edwards. And I was intrigued by Brian Schweitzer (via Andrew Sullivan).

For a much larger list, look here.