Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Obamacare Update

I could see the frustration on his face. Or maybe it was my imagination.

Someone I know well was scheduled for a medical procedure. And then the doctor arrived. He had been on the phone with the insurance company. They apparently have a new checklist of pre procedure requirements. At least one of those requirements was, in the estimation of the doctor, not medically advisable. He would never do that to any patient under any circumstances. So, with some requirements not met, and the insurance company not on board, the procedure was postponed. According to the doctor, in the past he would have been able to talk to a physician to explain the circumstances and the rationale for his medical decision. But now it was clerk with a checklist.

The doctor is a pioneer in his field. His method is less invasive, safer and I suspect cheaper, and is now standard procedure. Imagine the indignity of having his medical judgement usurped by a nameless clerk with a checklist. He is essentially semi-retired. I will not be the least bit surprised if he soon drops the "semi."

Note to Obamacare apologists. There is a difference between health insurance and health care.

Mission Accomplished in Racine

A month or so ago I wrote a letter to the Journal Times editor. Actually it was directed at one Todd Johnson, serial progressive diatribist. I asked just what should be done with the horrible conservatives. Reeducation camps, the guillotine, gulag?

His needlessly wordy response can be boiled down to "election routes" and his preferred solution, "self deportation."

Well then.... to borrow some phrases from an esteemed former president, mission accomplished! Heck of a job Johnsonny!

You see, Todd Johnson lives in Racine. Conservatives have been on the receiving end of electoral routes for years. Racine is a one party town run by liberals/progressives/Democrats and has been for years. Same with Racine Unified. And while all this was happening, Racine was gradually losing population as people "self deported" from Racine.

We should be living in a socialist paradise by now. But it never quite works out that way. Progressives like Todd Johnson can never be happy. This despite a plethora of his own "self deportation" options. Cuba, Detroit, North Korea etc... come to mind.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Observations on Gender and Pay

The big news lately is that we live in a horrible society where every employer apparently hates women and pays them 77 cents for every dollar paid to a man for the same job. This is of course complete b.s.

I own a business and have hired numerous people over the last twenty years. I need a job well done and I have no interest in overpaying for labor. Does anyone really believe that businesses (male and female owned) are really willing to pay 30% more (77 X 1.3 = roughly 1) for labor, just for the satisfaction of screwing over women?

Consider my business and the question of employee compensation. I own a retail jewelry, clothing, and accessory store and roughly 90% of my customers are female. One thing I have observed over the years is that when women are trying on clothes and looking for advice and candid observations on fit etc... that do not to want to hear that from a man. So a female is worth more to me than a man under such circumstances. So I should pay females more, right?

Not so fast. I also sell jewelry on the road sometimes. This requires filling a van full of stuff, getting up at 3 am, working until 6pm, staying in a crappy hotel to save expenses. Doing this job is far more physically demanding. Women can do it, have done it, and will continue to do it, but I find men to have a greater interest in this work than store work. They also save me money cause we tend to stay in the same crappy in room together, perhaps shaving $80 a day from my expenses. So I should pay men more for this, right?

The bottom line is that men and women are different. They bring different things to the table, they have different interests, abilities, tendencies, etc.... Additionally, on an individual level, some are more skilled, more reliable, more trustworthy, and so on. Pay decisions are a very complicated matter that requires in my business to know a person and determine their value to our business.

To suppose I or anyone else would purposely overpay for labor in a competitive marketplace is beyond absurd. The only thing more absurd is the arrogance of President Obama who believes that he has discovered a vast network of gender discrimination that he alone can fix.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Media Gag

Tons of coverage, lots of speculation, very few facts. I can't take any more "news" about the missing plane. As such, I am sure I have missed the speculation that perhaps one of the pilots has come under the sway of, er, more devout members of his religion.

I don't think speculation is an appropriate substitute for facts and news, but if you are going down that road, why avoid the one of the most obvious possibilities?

Victims Wanted

Voter ID bills are usually met with evidence free accusations of voter suppression. Why don't the Democrats trot out a real person who has been living without an ID and has been unable to secure one, and put a face on the victim of Republican policies?

Because no such person exists. If Dems are good at anything, it is finding or creating victims, especially the latter, with their policies. Yet they have yet to produce a single person to my knowledge who is unable to secure an ID.

Who is searching harder, Dems for an ID-less person, or OJ, for the killer?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Obamacare Update

I now have insurance through the ACA, aka Obamacare. I have even seen my doctor, same one as before. My premiums have gone down considerably as has my deductible.

So obviously I see Obamacare as an unqualified success. I kept my doctor and saved money, as promised by President Obama.

Ok, not really. Paragraph one is all true. But I am supposed to evaluate a federal public policy by its effect on me? I have never evaluated public policy by how I am personally effected and I am not going to start now.

For those who do consider public policy by its direct effect on them, I have a simple question. Why isn't that considered selfish or greedy?

I have always suspected that Obamacare will produce some winners and some losers. For this year, it looks like I will come out a winner. But is it good public policy?

No, it is not. That will be proven, if it hasn't been by now, over time. We will know this by full disclosure of data. We suspect that we have a problem because the Obama administration has not been forthcoming or transparent with the data. Will we get enough young and healthy people to sign up and, in effect, subsidize people like me who are getting older and will be statistically increasingly likely to rack up medical expenses?

No we won't as there aren't enough young and healthy folks with enough money willing to foot the bill. I can't say I blame them either. Soon enough this will stress the entire system and require a government bailout of the insurance companies and/or huge increases in premiums, deductibles, copays and rationing via provider restrictions.

The ACA will fail soon enough but if you have Obamacare I suggest you get the medical attention that you have been putting off as soon as possible before the system implodes.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

End Government Kidnapping Now

I just read a lame commentary on ending capital punishment. Actually I skimmed it until I read that murder is wrong, therefor the state shouldn't do it.

Well, kidnapping is wrong as well. We must close the jails! And maybe the public schools.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Consultants to the Rescue

I recently had an encounter with a city employee whom I thought had retired. Well yes, he had, but he has come back as a consultant. I was razzing him a bit about the double dipping, and then he said it saves the city money. I dropped the matter with him but I wondered how such an arrangement could save money for the city.

I think I have got it. It would indeed be cheaper to have a retired worker and a "consultant" who doesn't get another pension etc... than it would be to have a retired worker and a new worker, as the new worker comes with pension and health insurance expenses. I get that.

An even cheaper alternative exists apparently. Since Racine now hires "consultants" in lieu of city workers, why not lay off all of our city workers and give them first crack at coming back as consultants?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On Discrimination and Equal Protection

In light of the recent Arizona controversy involving the freedom of businesses to discriminate on the basis of deeply held religious beliefs, I thought I would weigh in with my own, I think, decidedly minority point of view on business discrimination.

A few years back we rehabbed the second floor of our commercial building, adding two apartments above. This rehab represented by far the largest investment in our lives and we certainly wanted to be very discriminating (not in the racial, orientation etc... sense, of course) in selecting tenants, as everything we had worked for up to that point was on the line. It occurred to me that I should understand very clearly the law as it pertained to illegal housing discimination. So I headed over to the Fair Housing office in Racine, you know, the folks who will come after you if you illegally discriminate. Unbelievably, they we unable to clarify the law for me, instead sending me to some website or brochure produced by the Agriculture Department. And no, I am not making this up.

At about this time I figured I was on my own, vulnerable to a lawsuit if I rejected a protected applicant for the apartment. As it turns out, we did reject a few people for reasons that I wouldn't have wanted to explain in court. Word of mouth info and intuition definitely came in to play and I don't suspect those explanations would go over so well in a courtroom. Anyway, thankfully the rejected applicants were white and I did not fear or experience retribution. I now wonder what might have happened if I had rejected a black tenant with "intuition" as my rationale. I suspect I could find myself trying to prove that I wasn't a racist, an impossible proposition for anyone.  When one is accused of racism, the innocent until proven guilty rules seem not to apply.

The answer in my mind to the problem is to let anyone discriminate for whatever flipping reason they want. I know, that sounds awful. Let me explain. As a businessman, I am entirely dependent on customers for my livelihood. I could theoretically have disdain for every category of human imaginable,  but I would need them for my business to prosper. The market would severely punish a business if it openly and blatantly discriminated. What would happen if it were legal and I put a sign in my window reading "No N-words Allowed!" Not only would I lose my valued black customers but I would probably lose all my other customers as well as they would be rightly repulsed by my racism. The left, always keen on creating regulations, always underestimates or utterly fails to understand the power of a free market to regulate the behavior of businesses.

Now it is amateur lawyer time. Do laws prohibiting business discrimination violate the concept of equal protection under the law? Consider the following: As a business owner, suppose I announced that I will hereafter refuse to serve black customers. Big trouble with the law, right? Now suppose the NAACP organized a boycott against me because I was white and because blacks should support black owned businesses. Perfectly legal, right? Why is that not illegal as well? Where is my equal protection from racial discrimination? People can freely patronize or reject businesses for whatever reason they want, and this is as it should be. In the interest of equality, I believe that the same protection should be available to business owners.

And what would happen then? Absolutely nothing! In the exceedingly rare case where a Christian photographer doesn't want to work a gay wedding, for example, the gay couple will easily find another business more than willing to do so. And businesses could proceed according to their values without worrying about crippling lawsuits.

And lastly, I noted above that my perspective on this matter is likely very much in the minority. And while this point is unrelated to the subject above, isn't the inclusion of minority perspectives the bulk of the rationale for affirmative action? Celebrate diversity lefties!