Those whose arguments are empty of fact are usually full of shit. --David Porter
Get it out there. Call, write, talk, inform.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Health Care Reform Costing Big Bucks?

Wow, have you heard that some really big U.S. companies are filing SEC documents stating that the newly enacted health care reform is costing them big bucks?

AT&T says it is booking $1Billion in costs; Caterpillar $150 Million, AK Steel $31 Million! That sounds to me like the health care reform is really not doing what politicians said it would do, namely LOWER health care costs for employers. So what’s going on?

Well, if you’ve taken college level accounting (and know a thing a two about these booking costs you would know what the news isn’t telling you.

The “costs” that these companies are “booking” are tax-free government subsidy payments that the companies receive to help these companies pay the cost of health care for their employees. The health care reform has taken away these tax-free government subsidy payments to these companies. In other words, these companies are no longer receiving these HUGE tax-free government checks that they used to get.

It’s NOT that the companies are having to PAY OUT in cash the $1Billion or $150 Million or $31 Million, it’s that these companies are no longer getting government checks, they cannot “book” these checks as tax-free income anymore. The checks issued to these companies by the government are really your tax dollars.

Don’t you feel sorry for them?

The Tea Party loves to vilify the federal government, but have the Partiers stopped Teabagging long enough to realize that maybe the private sector is poorly managed, greedy, and inept as well? Enron, MCI WorldComm, AIG, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, Tyco, Qwest,PG&E, Bernie Madoff, etc.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

How Healthy is the Rest of the World?

Republicans have been claiming over and over and over again that the United States has the best health care in the world. But is that a true statement? How do you measure or rate a healthcare system? Do you go by the number of people seen by doctors? The number of people who come to your country for care? The cost? The access? Well a very good measure of how good a country's health care is how long the people live--Life Expectancy. Another great indicator of good health care is how many babies die-- Infant Mortality. Guess where the U.S. is on both those lists.

Top Ten Countries with Highest Life Expectancy:
1.Andorra (near France): 83.51
2.Macau (near China): 82.19
3.San Marino (in Italy): 81.71
4.Singapore: 81.81
5.Hong Kong: 81.59
6.Japan: 81.25
7.Sweden: 80.51
8.Switzerland: 80.51
9.Australia: 80.50
10.Guernsey (in the English Channel): 80.42

Worst Ten Countries by Life Expectancy:
1.Swaziland: 32.63
2.Botswana: 33.74
3.Lesotho: 34.40
4.Zimbabwe: 39.29
5.Liberia: 39.65
6.Mozambique: 39.82
7.Zambia: 40.03
8.Sierra Leone: 40.22
9.Malawi: 41.70
10.South Africa: 42.73
11.Djibouti: 43.17

Other Countries of Interest:
1.Canada: 80.22
2.Italy: 79.81
3.France: 79.73
4.Germany: 78.80
5.United Kingdom: 78.54
6.United States: 77.85
7.Mexico: 75.41
8.China: 72.58
9.Iraq: 69.08
10.Russia: 67.08

Here's another list by the U.N.

Infant Mortality Rate by Country (source: the U.S. C.I.A.)
This entry gives the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year; included is the total death rate, and deaths by sex, male and female. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.

On the Infant Mortality list, the closer to #1 you are, the more baby deaths you have. In infant mortality, the U.S. has MORE baby deaths than the U.K., ALL the Nordic countries, South Korea, and even Slovenia.

Rank # of deaths/1,000
180 United States 6.22 2009 est.
194 United Kingdom 4.85 2009 est.
198 Netherlands 4.73 2009 est.
203 Denmark 4.34 2009 est.
204 South Korea 4.26 2009 est.
221 Japan 2.79 2009 est.

Below is a list of industrialized countries with some form of universal health care.

United Kingdom
New Zealand
Czech Republic
South Korea

Now please refer to the list “Top Ten Countries with Highest Life Expectancy” How many countries with highest life expectancy are also on the list of countries that have Universal, government-run health care? Coincidence? No.

The only “modern” country without UHC? The United States.

The lesson of the day is Sometimes it’s okay to go along with the crowd, because the crowd may know better than you do.

America does not have the best health care in the world. We do have great health care, among the best in the world, but not the best in the world for ALL of our citizens. But with the passage of Health Care Reform we might become the best.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fox Needs a Liberal Dose of Education

Oh My God!

The Liberals have finally gone too far. Or has Fox News not gone far enough (in hiring fact checkers and journalists with integrity)? This is yet another example of Fox News screwing up the story, spreading lies, causing hysteria and mayhem. When will the madness stop?

Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson says the State Board of Education is considering eliminating Christmas and the Constitution from textbooks Ciara O'Rourke PolitiFact Texas Staff Writer

After spending most of Wednesday gathering public comment, the Texas State Board of Education began hashing out how history, government and economics are taught in Texas public schools.

The board's efforts to revise social studies curriculum standards had drawn national attention, from the Fox News Channel in particular. On Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 Fox & Friends co-anchor Gretchen Carlson sounded scandalized by what the network dubbed the "Texas Textbook Wars."

"Stage set for a bitter debate — the Texas Board of Education begins hearings today on proposed changes to textbooks that could change what students across the country learn," Carlson said. "About history!"

Addressing Jason Moore, a Texas parent who planned to speak at Wednesday's hearing, Carlson said: "So, one of the proposed changes, Jason, is actually to start history class in the year 1877, which would be a big problem for a lot of people, would it not? And eliminate references to certain holidays, Founding Fathers, the Constitution! I mean, no surprise that Christmas, they want to get rid of that because they've been doing that for the last couple of years, but c'mon, the Constitution?"

Come again — we the people will not study the Constitution in school? Christmas nearly kaput?
Moore corrected Carlson on one count — he said the board had made clear that it's not considering eliminating references to the Christian holiday. Carlson didn't acknowledge her goof.

The Texas Education Agency, which oversees primary and secondary education, blasted Fox News for distorting the facts.

"The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education’s efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards," the agency said in a press release.

On Thursday, "Fox & Friends" co-anchor Steve Doocy backpedaled on his colleague's earlier statement. According to a Fox News transcript, Doocy said on the show: “I just want to clarify some stuff, a couple of points. First of all, they were upset that what we said that what they are doing down in Texas is they are developing standards for new textbooks. Technically, what they are doing is they are developing curriculum standards that will set what is taught in classes, and then those standards will become part of a framework that textbooks are based on. We were just trying to make it simpler…

"Also," Doocy said, "we talked about a suggestion that was made that history is, American history starts in the year 1877. That was a suggestion, made first of all, in North Carolina, and we thought we were pretty clear that these were just suggestions, and there have been a lot of suggestions, regarding the founding fathers, and some different dates that may or may not be included in the text . . . . We want to make sure you understand, they were just suggestions, and that is our clarification.”

So Fox admits it erred on what the Texas board is debating: curriculum standards, not textbook content.

Now, what about those Christmas and Constitution deletions Carlson bemoaned?

Let's start with the Christmas brouhaha, which broke out last summer. In standards under revision for sixth-grade world culture courses, the board's Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review committee recommended replacing Christmas and Rosh Hashanah with the Buddhist and Hindu holiday Diwali as examples of significant religious holidays.

Here's the wording of the committee's proposed July revision with deletions in parentheses: "Culture. The student understands the relationships among religion, philosophy, and culture. The student is expected to a) explain the relationship among religious ideas, philosophical ideas, and cultures; and b) explain the significance of religious holidays and observances such as (Christmas and) Easter, Ramadan, (and) Yom Kippur (and Rosh Hashanah) Diwali in (selected) various contemporary societies."

Critics immediately called the proposed changes "the war on Christmas." When the board met in September, it made clear that those holidays would be put back in — and they were restored in the committee's October revision. Upshot: The board isn't considering removing Christmas from the list of holiday examples.

What about starting the teaching of American history in 1877, leaving out the drafting of the Constitution in 1787 and decades of events after that?

Doocy said on "Fox & Friends" that Carlson was referring to suggestions in North Carolina. He didn't elaborate on why his colleague referred to the Tar Heel State while talking about Texas. We confirmed that while updating its curriculum standards, North Carolina's education board came under fire for a proposed change to spread its teaching of history over several grades so that high school juniors would only study U.S. history post-Reconstruction, after 1877. Currently in that state, U.S history after 1789 is taught in high school.

Texas has long spread its teaching of history over several grades. The Texas Education Agency said: "Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in eighth grade... U.S. history since 1877 is taught in 11th grade."

We found eight references to the Constitution being taught in the proposed revisions to the high school standard, and more than 20 in both the draft middle school and elementary school standards.

So let's review.

First, the board is hammering out changes to state curriculum standards, not textbooks. Second, the board is not considering removing Christmas from a list of various religious holidays. And third, the board has never considered removing the Constitution from history textbooks or the state's curriculum. Nothing is final yet — the board is expected to give final approval to the standards in May.

The "Fox & Friends" anchor made things simple and irresponsibly far-fetched and wrong. We rate Carlson's ridiculous statement as Pants on Fire.

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