Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Strange Rules of the FCC

CAUTION: this post contains words that might be considered offensive. In reality, you probably hear them every day. However, if you are offended, you might just have a career in the FCC!

I was engaging in my Sunday morning ritual of a cup of coffee (and some delicious pound cake, thanks to a friend) and enjoying the extra time to read up on the news when I came across this story - SNL newbie Jenny Slate evidently dropped the F-bomb. Horror of horrors!! What will happen to society now? Oh and will she be punished? Will the almighty FCC slap a fine on the station?

Now, you can argue that the children don't need to be exposed to the F-word. I'll agree with you on that, though I've heard a kid as young as 9 years old use it. But if you are old enough to be watching Saturday Night Live, I don't think the FCC needs to be protecting you!

Seriously, what kind of stupid farts are on this board? Consider this - you can call someone a "bastard" but not say "shit" on TV! Shit! I mean, I don't use the fucking f-word a lot, but I never realized "shit" had the power to corrupt!

Come on, we're grown adults here! You could argue what's appropriate for sporting events and music awards in prime time, but after 10 pm, I say bring on the fucking nudes! And let them cuss while they are going at it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why Comparing US and European Health Care is Misleading

Simple reason ... Americans are way too fat! Check out the national obesity statistics here. Americans are 3 times as fat as most European countries.

Government has a role. Removing corn subsidies that ensure high-fructose corn syrup in all our foods would be a good start. (Oh, and it would also reduce starvation in third world countries which struggle to compete on an un-flat agricultural market) Town planners incentivizing more walkable communities will help. More awesome farmers' markets, like the one in my city, will help.

I personally don't even mind a tax on unhealthy foods, although I don't think its implementable.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Intellectual Dishonesty of the Public Option

President Obama once again pitched for the public option last night and the mainstream media once again cheered. On the face of it, it is easy to be carried away. You can keep your insurance, or you can take the government plan. Sounds innocuous, right?

Wrong! The reality is that a public option is a lose-lose, unless you want a nationalized healthcare system.

For starters, even if the government plan is not subsidized by the taxpayer, it has several key advantages. One is that its cost of capital is much lower than any of its competitors, its debt being backed by the full faith of the US Government. The other is that since it does not have to make a profit, competition will kill returns in the private sector, driving us towards national healthcare.

Will we be able to keep the health plan we like? Absolutely not! Lets focus simply on the issue of those currently being covered by an employer-based health plan. If you are an employer, you can either buy health insurance from a private insurer, or you can pay a tax (if I remember the parts of HR3200 I read, it's in the vicinity of 8% of gross income)

If the government plan is cheaper, most employers will simply abandon providing health coverage and instead pay the tax. But we are not in the clear even if the government plan is more expensive. After all, this means that the clientèle for the government plan will dispropriately be the unemployed, individuals with pre-existing conditions, and other high-risk groups. That would make a government plan unsustainable (after all, the point of insurance is to spread risk, not aggregate the risky) Any bets that politicians would stay true to their word and allow a government plan to fail?

The mainstream media has bought this along traditional lines, and failed to do much analysis. It is easily to be carried away by the brilliance of Obama's oratorical skills, and by the extreme craziness from some on the right. But let's not get carried away - if the public option passes, we're coasting to a socialized medical system!