Illegal? Isn’t Everything Illegal?

The fourth of July brings to Connecticut police reminders that all fireworks are illegal, even the ones you just bought in Connecticut.  I shouldn’t name names, but big stores in my town sell lots of fireworks that the police say are illegal to set off in Connecticut.

Most of us don’t think this is strange, but I do, I think we have a strange system that allows us to do just about anything, but the police say we can’t do that thing.  And they call this a free country.

My town has a two lane divided highway running through it and at any given moment every single car on it is driving faster than the speed limit unless they are slowing down to take an exit.  This is normal in the United States.

Nearly twice as much money is spent on illegal recreational drugs in the US than on legal alcohol.  This is normal.  None of us question this, and most of us defend the idea that those in prison are just the unlucky ones who got caught, that all of us do things that are illegal.

If questioned about the illegal things we do, well, those things are so bad as the illegal things others do.  This is normal in the United States.  The ones who are in prison must have done something much worse than the things we did, but we don’t have any evidence of this.  Or the evidence is that they are in prison and we aren’t.

Nearly 80% of our state budget in Connecticut is related to payroll and benefits for state employees.  And nearly 80% of all the state employees are related to public safety, law enforcement, prisons, judicial, law making and such.

Imagine how much money we could save and how much better our surroundings if we educated people on the dangers of addiction instead of punishing them for drug use,  Or if our laws were structured for unsafe driving at the discretion of the officer instead of picking a speed and saying that in this area this is the maximum, in this area the maximum is different and so on.

Let Us Buy Medicaid!

The simplest solution to the Health Insurance disaster is right in front of our noses.  Sell Medicaid to those who can’t get insurance elsewhere.  Offer a version of Medicaid as an optional insurance carrier.

There are already several versions of Medicaid and Medicare that can be used as a model for coverage.  We know it costs the taxpayer about $6500 per person who is on Medicaid.

The only reasons I can think of for NOT offering the option of selling Medicaid is protection for the insurance industry.  If you have another reason please let me know!

The old system was uninsured go to the hospital who helps them, gives them a huge bill that they never pay, and the hospital increases the charges on everyone else to cover the unpaid bills.

This led to inflation on health care services so that today we can fly to Costa Rica and stay on the beach for three days, get a colonoscopy by more modern equipment and probably US trained doctors, and return to the US with a tan and cost $1000 less than the cost of a colonoscopy alone in the US. It is a 20 minute procedure and you feel nothing.

I was charged $3500 for a colonoscopy, not including the doctor.  I had insurance, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  It didn’t cost me anything, but it costs us all, and it boils down to the un-insureds who cannot pay their bills.

Here’s an example: A child is born with a heart problem. The cost of pediatric heart surgery without insurance in the US is $92k, and a lot of such surgery (below the top 10%) can be over $220k.

Without going into how people can make that much money in a day or why hospitals in the US sometimes charge ten times for an overnight than hospitals in other countries, let’s talk about what happens if the family of the baby doesn’t pay the bill.  Obviously the baby doesn’t die, and there are charities and Medicaid programs that might help.  And again, without going into who pays for the charities and government programs that might help let’s move on.

Health Insurance is not health care.  We pay double or more for health care not only because our insurance system is damaged.  Our whole system is based on adversarial rules which only benefit government employees and lawyers… Well and lawmakers and insurance companies.  And because of that our doctors benefit but have to hire teams of administrators to take advantage of our system.

If someone doesn’t pay a large bill, like a $300,000 bill, like a medical bill for a child’s surgery, they have to go to court.  There is no defense, the bill is theirs.  So they pay weekly, often as little as $35 a week to the hospital which means they would pay  for 167 years by court order.  Or they go bankrupt and the only person who benefits is the lawyer… and the prosecutors and the judge, and the administrators. It keeps the government employees busy on the tax payers dime minus filing fees of  probably under $300.  And the family doesn’t have to pay the hospital, but instead the courts and the lawyers.

Could we have designed a worse system?  Never underestimate the power of bad design, but keep your eyes on the cost of health care (not the cost of health insurance).  You cannot negotiate the $3500 plus doctor fees for a 20 minute colonoscopy or $200k for a half-day’s team effort because your insurance will pay it.  And the economics of why they will pay it are sicker than colonoscopy patients, possibly as sick as the child’s heart defect.

The roots of the system are adversarial judicial systems and the economic advantages of several layers of administrative charges for simple, routine and nearly universally received medical procedures like colonoscopies.

Look at the cost of a flu shot or a vaccine.  Doctors will perform these procedures for precisely what the insurance company will pay.  No one can blame the doctors.  Why would I choose to do the same work as someone else but for less pay?  And if a doctor doesn’t want to make at least as much money as other doctors I might get suspicious.  I have good insurance, I would rather get the best doctor because my insurance will pay.  So if the doctor charges my insurance more money he might very well be a better doctor.

Suppose there was a set fee for giving a shot (there is) set by insurance companies (there is) but the government sets up a system (medicaid/medicare) where the cost of giving that shot is a lot less (life as we know it).  Health care professionals still give the shots, but complain about how little money they get for giving the shot.  They will look for examples of procedures that should be paid a lot higher and lobby congress to raise the cost of giving shots and other medical procedures to tax-payer supported patients.  Again, I have just explained our life in the USA.

Insurance companies don’t want the government to take away their customers by offering insurance to people who might be able to pay big premiums to them and not the government.  So they continue to pay more to doctors than the government does.  Lots more. Now they have the support of doctors who want big bucks for giving shots, as is human nature.

So there is no way cut the crap and change the system  Well, unless we are allowed to buy a version of Medicaid….

Revision:  Based on feedback from people who point out that people look at health care as a freebie, that since they don’t pay (their insurance does, or they go bankrupt) the solution to that problem is simple as well:  Larger co-pays.

Buy Medicaid with a $50 co-pay for all doctor visits and $300 co-pay for the ER or Ambulance…

Copyright 2017 Kent Johnson

 

 

State Budgets in the US

Now is the time we hear on the news that, for example, Illinois has not had a budget in three years, the finger pointing, the observation that congress is responsible but not accomplished in many states.

So I looked why.  I hypothesize it has to do with the numbers of state employees per capita.  For example Indiana has 46 state employees per 10,000 people, or .46 % of the population is paid by the state.  But Connecticut has 115 or 1.15% more than double. https://tinyurl.com/pbgngn8

The most interesting to me is 80% of the Connecticut budget is personnel (including pensions), grants (towns and benefits like medicaid), and debt service. https://tinyurl.com/yctuht55

Indiana approved a 2 year state budget in February, Connecticut still doesn’t have a budget and will now go to budget by executive order.

Not that it would be easy to cut more than half of the state employees.  Indiana has a higher incarceration rate than Connecticut.  We have 1 full time teacher per 12 pupils through all grade levels, and Indiana has 17, which is probably not a good thing but does save the taxpayers some money.  In Indiana and Connecticut a little more than 40% of the education staff are teachers.

Indiana has 6.6 million people compared with 3.6 for Connecticut, and Indiana’s budget is $32 billion and the budget CT cannot pass is $21 billion.  On surprise I ran across was more than double in CT for judicial Indigent Services, public defenders, than in Indiana.  So I went through out budget and this is where it gets complicated to compare with Indiana.  Connecticut spends money on lots of employee salaries related to the Judicial Industry.  Below is a list I made from this web site http://transparency.ct.gov/html/searchpayroll.asp

Attorney General $42.6 million

Department of Correction $605.7 million

Department of Public Safety $218.8 million

Criminal Justice $65.4 million

Judicial Department $468 million

Public Defender Services $56 million

Nearly 1.5 billion dollars is spent in Connecticut, 25% of the total budget, directly on crime and punishment.

It would certainly be easier and cheaper and better for everyone if we focused on education and tolerance of others, and of course, removing violence instead of all the other things we prohibit.

Libertarians say Don’t Tread On Anyone.

Climate Change: Both Sides Wrong

Anthropogenetic Climate Change or ACC is a prediction, a forecast, it is shown in computer models not in our weather.  CO2 is assumed to be the source of the most recent (since the 1970s) increase in global warming.  Here is a NASA produced and mostly accurate but misleading video. https://tinyurl.com/qgbc3bb

As you see most of the additional CO2 humans emit comes from winter heating our homes.  During the warmer months levels of CO2 are not above the norm.

And the amount of warming has varied and global temperature has been shown to correlate very precisely with global CO2 levels.  However we have not yet shown that the CO2 drives warming either locally or in the lab, much less globally.  Please if you know of any study which does this let me know.

The best we have done is shown that if we double the CO2 content in the atmosphere and all other things stay the same (both things are highly unlikely) global temperature will raise by 2 degrees Celsius.  If you want to see the math I will direct you.

 

Truthiness and Headline Journalism

We don’t take the time or effort to understand beyond the headlines.  Headlines suggest and we fill in the gaps without any input.  It just SHOULD be easy to understand, so we make it easy.  It isn’t true, but it is truthy and easy to put in a headline.

Truthiness and its relation to Climate Change, the bee die-off, GHOs, organic gardening, police violence, bi-sexuality, our own understanding of logic, and lots more.  Can you stomach the truth?  Can you follow to the third paragraph of a news story?

If we can understand correlation is not cause we can begin.  If today’s weather is due at whole or in part to the proven fact of global warming that has not been proven.  Perhaps it SHOULD be true, perhaps one day we will find the cause of today’s weather (at whole or in part) but we have not.  Bees are dying in record numbers.  It is truthy that the die-off SHOULD be due to pesticides, but no one has yet found it to be so.  Organic gardens have one third the pesticides in the produce as the supermarket variety product.  Maybe that should NOT be true, but it is remarkably consistent tested result.  Police are less likely to die on the job than farmers, electricians, loggers and construction workers.  Police kill about 300 people for every police officer that dies as a national average.  In order for a bisexual to validate her/his sexual nature as we are wont to do with gay and straight marriage, the bisexual needs to marry a person of each sex, at least two people.

Logic and reason give us the tools to test our beliefs in physical reality.  We make a reasoned guess about things and then try out what we think should happen to see if your guess can be true.  Secular reasoning puts faith in such an equation.  Religious faith reasons that some non-proven but noble influence will change things at some future date.

If you are religious you are thinking of your future, of what might happen if you don’t follow your religion.  There are countless examples, but the best known is going to heaven or hell.  The prime modern apologist for the Christian Faith, C.S. Lewis, argues that we should act as though we are afraid of going to hell because that will show us how being religious will make us feel, presumable so much better that we will continue our Christian faith in a more sincere manner.

I am not denying the motivation such thoughts give us, or the vast quantities of good that are spread throughout the world by way of that thought process.  I am merely comparing such motivation and philosophy with many new and motivational philosophies that have appeared in the world more recently than most religion.

One question is whether our laws and justice system should be based upon the freedom God gave us (so long as it does not infringe upon the freedom God gave others). If not, upon what do we base the law?

Laws against actions that do no hurt others are laws against personal freedom.  There are laws against certain kinds of sex, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, gambling, drugs and other risky behavior, I am sure the list goes on.  These laws have been instituted to attempt to keep bad things from happening, to attempt to stop or change people’s behavior not because of what they have done or are doing, but because of what might happen if they continue to do it.

Of course I am not talking about human trafficking or pushing drugs.  These crimes are aimed at making money for the perpetrator and taking away the free choice of the victim. If we have a free country we are allowed to do whatever we want so long as it does not affect

Religion is fear of the future, and so is pop philosophy.

Let Us Buy Medicaid

It is the simplest solution, The framework is there, just charge people on a sliding scale, the low end of the scale is already there.

It costs about $6,500 per person per year, paid by the taxpayer and the payroll deductions.  That is about the same cost as a low cost health insurance plan.

Give us a choice.  Let us buy Medicaid. 

Bill No. 5898 *02277* AN ACT PHASING OUT THE HOSPITAL TAX.

This is my first review of proposed bills.  I will be learning to better do this for quite some time, no doubt.  I set the www.cga.ct.gov preferences for my account to notify me whenever Bolinsky of the 106th district did something or other and every night I get new notification.  I noticed a lot of things I disagreed with coming from this republican.

Proposed Bill No. 5898 January Session, 2017 LCO No. 2277 *02277*

Referred to Committee on FINANCE, REVENUE AND BONDING

Introduced by: REP. BOLINSKY, 106th Dist.  AN ACT PHASING OUT THE HOSPITAL TAX.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That chapter 211a of the general statutes be amended to phase out the hospital tax over a five-year period beginning July 1, 2017.

Statement of Purpose:

To phase out the hospital tax over a period of five years.

Here is the entire text of this bill.  https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/h/2017HB-05898-R00-HB.htm

Critical Thinking has Value, I don’t care Who’s President.

Social sciences, sociology et al, can prove statistically that the virtues, honesty, transparency in social and financial affairs, education, compassion, devotion, loyalty, diligence, patience, kindness…  I believe our science can prove such things are good for society.  Religion is right, but also, religion is superfluous.

A country could, instead of putting religion in the Constitution, put instead values such as those stated above and support and sustain such a country with assurance that country is the best on earth.

 

When Will We Be Free?

June 12, 1967 was the day interracial marriage became legal in the USA. Thank us all we have legalized dancing, beer, sex without money, witchcraft, most kinds of blasphemy, slavery  and eliminated most dress codes. Issues Republicans are still fighting against include gay relationships, recreational drugs, transgender issues, the equal status of immigrants and their children, poor people’s right to health care, right to privacy, sex for money, and religion.

The OBVIOUS point is, or should be,  that government should not be in the marriage or sex or drugs or religion business.  Why does the government sanction and tax a marriage with a license at the court house?  Okay, for the tax incentive to get married, the government wants to encourage marriage.  If it were only that easy to explain.

Why can’t a man marry a rock?  Because he wants the government to sanction it like if he were to marry a woman or a man.  If the government did not sanction marriage it would not be an issue.

Five European and seven Latin American countries have legalized the use of ALL DRUGS, leaving only the crimes involved with distributing controlled substances.  The problem is not the use of drugs, but rather ADDICTION which is a public health problem. All populations have one to two percent actively addicted at any given time regardless how full the prisons are.