Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One nation of welfare queens

Matt Yglesias shows how we're all sucking from the government teat. Next time you hear someone complain about their tax dollars going to welfare, ask them if they take the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, or have ever taken a student loan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"grow wings, damnit!"

That's what these protesters at the South Bend Animal Care and Control Shelter might as well be demanding.

And why is that, you ask? Because these people apparently want the shelter to expand in size and staffing to accommodate holding strays longer than 48 hours. Yeah, sure! I'd love that, too! I'd also love for the school district not to react to recessions by firing 50 teachers. I'd love for the city to use construction services that pay their workers fairly, so there are no strikes and the roads near my house are repaired promptly. I'd love there to be enough cops to keep our neighborhood safe.

Guess what, kids: you get the public services you pay for. You want better? You have to pay for it.

People who work at animal shelters, I'll wager, love animals almost as a rule. If it were up to animal shelter employees, all shelters would be no-kill shelters with huge playpens, ample blankets and beds, TV and radio channels broadcasting the animals they've recently caught, and lots on veterinarians on site to keep everyone healthy and adorable and playful.

But it isn't up to the employees because they don't get enough money for all that stuff. They take the money that's budgeted, stretch it out as far as they can to keep as many animals alive as possible, and then prep the needles and do what they have to do.

You want the shelter to stop killing in 48 hours? Don't stand across the street like an idiot and demand that they make gold nuggets from dog shit. Tell your friends, family, newspaper, and city council that you think the shelter should get more money, and you'd be willing to pay something for that. Lessen the shelter's burden by keeping your fence in good repair, keeping your dogs collared and getting them chipped. Spay and neuter your pets. And for fuck sake, don't wait several days to go retrieve your dog from them!

One member of the protesting group apparently held a sign saying: "Is your pet's life worth more than 48 hours?" You're the one with the pocketbook, taxpayer; you tell me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

11 ways the Massachusetts reforms are or are not working

Not bad, actually:
1) There has been a dramatic expansion of health insurance, reducing the uninsurance rate by 60-70%.

2) No change in wait times for general an internal medicine practitioners have been observed.

3) The share of the population with a usual source of care, receiving preventative care, and receiving dental care all rose.

4) The rate of utilization of emergency care fell modestly.

5) There has been a 40% decline in uncompensated care.

6) The proportion of the population with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by 0.6%.

7) The rate of employer offers of coverage grew from 70% to 76%.

8) Mandate compliance has been very high: 98% compliance in reporting via tax filings of obtaining coverage or paying penalties.

9) The administrative costs of health reform have been low. Overall implementation costs have been close to expectations.

10) Premiums have fallen dramatically in the non-group market.

11) Though group premiums have risen, they have not increased faster than one would expect from increases in other states in the region.

Just a little reality check. Looks like in general it's been a net positive for Massachusetts. Gotta love that coverage and number of people receiving preventive care rose without increasing wait times for GPs.

Friday, June 17, 2011


So if the government hands you a "voucher" that's good for a certain amount of money's worth of private goods, isn't that pretty much the dictionary definition of rationing?

the Wienerlogues

Bill Maher and Jane Lynch do a dramatic reading of some of Anthony Wiener's emails. NSFW.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

cutting WIC to fund tax cuts for the rich

In an earlier post, I mentioned that, though I'm trying to figure out how Republicans view the world, to get on the same wavelength, I have a lot of trouble with it. I have a lot of Republican friends and have talked with them a lot about their beliefs, but some tendencies I find inscrutable even if predictable.

The recent House decision to slash WIC funding is an example of the limits of my ability to empathize with the Republican mindset. I just don't understand the urge to cut funding from poor children in a recession. I don't get how anyone looking to cut the size of government looks at that line in the budget and thinks anything other than "obviously we can't cut that now, and if we ever do, we'd better cut everything else we want first."

Friday, June 10, 2011

the VHA, best of the bunch

Ezra Klein points out that the Veterans' Health Administration is now getting the best marks of any health care system in the United States. Now chew on this:
The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Evan Bayh signs on with the US Chamber of Commerce

Time to get paid, am I right, Evan?
As iWatch News' Peter Stone reports, Bayh has signed on with one of the most corporate-friendly, anti-environment shops in all of Washington, DC: the US Chamber of Commerce. According to an internal memo penned by Chamber president Tom Donohue, Bayh, along with former Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card, are now part of the Chamber's anti-regulation messaging team, doing "speeches, events, and media appearances at local venues."

The Chamber's hiring of Bayh, a big name in Washington circles, will only help its efforts to delay or kill new regulatory legislation in Congress. Indeed, Donohue's memo touts how the Chamber has filed legal briefs to challenge the validity of President Obama's health care reform bill; successfully delayed a new Securities and Exchange Commission rule on giving shareholders a say on corporate directors; unveiled plans to undermine the clout of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and delayed a rule forcing companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products. Bayh and Card, the memo says, will help the Chamber push this pro-corporate agenda in Washington and beyond.

It's all a game to these guys.