Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Damage Done by Unions

I have long felt that Unions in America are not only hurting the companies, but they hurt the workers too.  In short, Unions are damaging to the economy as a whole.The current exhibit in this long list of such exhibits?  The bond market.

Reuters reported last week that the bond market has turned.  What once was a very well understood relation between companies, unions and bond holders has suddenly been turned upside down.  Or, if not upside down, it’s at least been turned to the point that no one knows which way is up.  See, the point of buying a bond is that the bond is considered “secure”.  This term, in legalize, is meant to convey certain rights in the event of bankruptcy.  As it is now being played out, this right is being denied, or attempted to be denied to the bond holders of the auto makers; Chrysler and GM.

See, Mr. Obama is trying to put the bond holders behind other, more politically advantageous groups, in this case, the Unions.

…the Obama administration is offering most of the recovery value of those companies to “a favored political class, in this case the United Auto Workers…

What does this mean?  It means that people buying bonds are no longer going to do so with the secure knowledge that they are going to “get theirs” in the event the company has to declare.  And, you may ask, what does THAT mean?  It means, for companies with bargained for employees, that they are going to have a harder time selling their bonds and raising the money they need to conduct business.  And that, my friends, is BAD for business.

The whole concept is a strange one.  Politically attractive, sure, but strange.  See, on one hand, almost ALL of America is upset right now with “investors”, “speculators” and other groups of people that might have been making money when the banking crisis hit.  Most people feel that somehow it wasn’t the individual home buyers or the government that caused this problem, but that it was the folks trying to make money by floating that money.  So, Obama has a huge lever in the court of public opinion.

Then, of course, those bondholders are not united or organized.  While they may trend to act as a group, there is not formal organization and certainly they don’t have “members”.  So, by helpin the unions out, you have helkped out a very organized outfit complete with mind numbing numbers of people who just wait to be told what to do.

The other area that this is so concerning is that we seem to have people who actually believe that money just flows.  From somewhere.  Just waiting to be picked up.  And that if I don’t have enough of it, well then, by gawd, someone must have my share of it.  So I am going to go take it back.  Sigh.  I get so tired of that mentality, so so tired.

However, in the end, I really think that it is this movement toward the support of the Union that is going to be the largest threat to NC.  I just wonder if anyone else sees it.

Mandatory Sick Leave, Vacation and Minimum Wage

So, recently over at Applied Rationality we have been discussing legislating Mandatory Sick Leave.  Dave seems to be of the opinion that we should mandate paid sick leave to all employees while I maintain that such a benefit more resembles increased pay and would reduce the incidence of labor.  Minimum wage has long been a favorite of mine and this new legislation seems to be another version of the same.

I think it’s exactly this type of legislation where we as conservatives fall down and really fail to serve the public.  As champions of this type of legislation, it is the Left that is doing the PR job of getting out there and shaping the message.  They are in front of the cameras talk about laws that will help the “Average American”, the “Working Man” and “America’s Middle Class”.  They are getting the message out in the nightly newscasts, newspapers and magazines.  And they are doing it well.  They have been able to successfully shape the public opinion to the point that most of the nations feels that it is the Liberal Left and the Democrats who are standing up for the rights and well being of the average guy.

And we are letting them.

We don’t have anyone that is able to go out and change the shape of the conversation.  We don’t have anyone that is willing to take this law, conduct the research and bring the message into the homes of all people everywhere that this tpe of legislation HURTS the very people it is aimed at helping.  By mandating such demonstrably bad policies, what we are doing is legislating those of us who can least afford to be out of a job–out of a job.  We are building a scenario where employers are going to reduce the number of employees on their payroll.  And they are going to begin with the least skilled most marginal among their employees.  Rather than helping people, this law and others like it is destructive.

And we are letting them.

Now, I’m not willing to give the Democrats enough credit to come up with one of these Black Helicopter theories that says they are doing this on purpose in order to create a dependent Nation.  I really really don’t think they are that, umm, well, thoughtful.  I really do think that they are trying to actually help people.  I do.  But they are wrong.  They are taking the easy way out and, it just so happens, that this easy way out plays very well in the court of public opinion.  But the facts remain, this is horrible legislation and we know it.  Or should.  And we should be singing and shouting it out from rooftops all across America.  And we should be changing the tone of the conversation that it is Conservatives who are championing policies that actually DO help people.

Of course, we should then actually enact that policies…but thats another post for another day.

Health Care and the Capital “O” Ought

So, it seems as if this country is going to get ready for some big time politics surrounding the health care industry in the next several months.  And it is going to be Democrat vs. Republican.  Liberal vs. Conservative.  It’s going to be “What we wish it could be like” vs. “This is how it is”.

Wait.  Did I say that?

The problem that I have with liberals is that they see inequity and just simply say “That’s not fair!” and then stomp their feet.  Then, they look around and say, well, sheesh, if the rich have this, than I want that too!  And then they legislate that.  All the while never understanding that what they are doing is putting those poor folks deeper and deeper in the hole than when they started.  I’ll never forget reading that when the minimum wage was enacted, hundreds of thousands of African Americana’s became unemployed.

Anyway, so here it is, the challenge:  Regarding health care; what is it that you want?  What is broken now that you wanna see fixed?  What metrics will you use?

Is it basic care that you want given to all people?  is it emergent care that you want?  Life threatening illness care?  What, exactly, do you want?

My Japanese Carolina Experience

So here I am, up well past my bedtime strolling through the internet when a friend of mine points me to this example of “Single Payer Health Care”.

It is the story of a man in Japan who is describing his experience with the Japanese style of health care; Single Payer to be specific.  In it, our hero is suffering from strep throat and is taking the time to describe to us how treatment went in Japan.  His story begins with a  fever and a sore throat and … well, I’ll let him take it from there:

I walked into the hospital and was seen by a bi-lingual physician almost immediately (maybe a 5 minute wait after showing my National Health Care Card)

Now, the sticking point with this whole Universal Health Care, Single Payer Health Care or Socialized Medicine is the concept of rationing.  Ya see, we have far far fewer medical practitioners than we have demand for free medical care.  Serious, imagine if any medical procedure or treatment were free, do you think the system would be overwhelmed or underwhelmed?  Right, me too.  So, we do what we do in all markets [well almomst all markets.  In most markets, we are much freer than in the medical care market, but that is for another post] and that is ration by cost.  That is, we let people determine, based on how much they are willing to pay, when they will seek medical care.  We ration the available care by allowing the consumer the choice.

So anyway, brother was seen almost immeadiately.  Well, maybe a 5 minute wait after showing his Nation Health Care Card.  While perhaps only a minor point, I would like to know how long it took him to show his card AFTER walking the door fot he facility.  Anyway, the drama unfolds….

examined my throat, asked when it had began and took my temperature. He decided that a throat culture was necessary and it was sent to the lab. In the meantime he prescribed a painkiller and antibiotic …..

Now, everything seems cool so far.  Doc, bi-lingual Doc at that, correctly concludes that a throat culture is required.  Good man.  AND we get drugs prescribed too.  So far, so good.

…and asked me to come back in 2 days.

Yowza!  And here is the rub.  THIS is the rationing.  THIS is what HAS to take place.  Because the demand for care out strips the supply of care, we HAVE to ration it.  And when we let people think that we are providing FREE care, we have to ration it by …… wait for it [pardon the pun] TIME.

When I went back to the hospital they informed me that I had a severe case of Strep throat and I needed a much stronger antibiotic, which was prescribed immediately.

So, the SECOND trip to the hospital found the cause of the trouble and they prescribed the correct drug to treat.  Excellent.  Though I should point out the catch phrase “prescribed immediately.   As if.  Actually, it was prescribed immeadiately AFTER a 48 hour [and five minute] wait.  So, how much did this most excellent of all services cost our protagonist?  Why, it’s FREE you say.  He doesn’t have to pay a thing!  Right?  Wrong!

Turns out our hero has to actually cough up [punny again, I know] the small small fee of ….. $385 a MONTH!  Let’s see, 385 bucks a month is $4, 620 a year.  A YEAR.  Now, the story doesn’t tell us if this is before or after taxes, so let’s just pretend that it ‘s before.  As in, just like a normal tax.  This means, that unless our hero makes more than $46k a year, he is paying more than 10% for medical care.  Oh yeah, he also has to pay a 30% co-pay.  Yeah……not so free, huh?  Oh, and his wife is paying too!  So, let’s not pretend that this is free or without costs.  This is, quite simply, mandatory health insurance.

Further, as I kept reading the post I found a picture of what looks to be our author.  He is the one on the right.  Looking at the pic, I am guessing the man is younger than, oh, say, 30.  He is younger than 30.  Now, when I was younger than 30, AND when I am queried by folks that I come across who ask me about this sort of thing, I tell them at age 30 all you need is catastrophe insurance.  Why?  Because at ages younger than 30, you DON’T GO TO THE DOCTOR!090523_141001

In any event, lemme tell you about MY strep throat story in the good ol’ US of A.

One day I woke up with a very soar throat and mild fever, it persisted and got worse the following day.  I decided to call my primary care physician who said that she could meet me that afternoon.  I decided to accept her offer and made an appoint at DUKE MEDICAL CARE!  However, after having some coffee and getting ready to go to the office, I decided that I wanted to stop at the grocery store to buy some fruit for the day.  As I left the grocery I noticed the pharmacy across the street.  I remembered that they have a clinic.  I stopped.  I also had about a 5 minute wait.  The Doc took my temp and swabbed my throat.  She said that I would need to have the sample tested; I said I would wait.  I asked how long, she said 10 minutes.  I browsed the store, bought some birthday cards, bought some supplies for my home office and even a present for each of my kids.  By the time I was done shopping, the results were in; strep.  The correct medicine was presented to me with zero wait and I was on my way.

I called DUKE MEDICINE to cancel and my doc said “That was good thinking.”

Total cost?  Zero dollars.  Of course I do have to pay about the same as Mr. Progressive Tokyo here, but, you know, that covers me, my wife and two young children.

Funny.  Capitalsim and the free market.

Wake GOP Has This One Wrong

For a long time now, the left has cornered the market on Education issues in our politics.  They have dominated this perception and have won that marketing strategy.  For example, when asked which party supports education, most North Carolinian’s will reply that it’s the Democrats.  The irony of this is, of course, bitter.  It is the conservative family that stresses discipline, delayed gratification and higher education.  Many of the traditional democratic base does not take full advantage of the education system in our country.  So, how is it that the democrats have won the day on this issue?  It’s because the Teacher’s Unions support the liberal cause.  And when you have the teachers supporting the democrats, you end up having the perception that the Democrats support Education.  Simple.

And deadly.

We have to do a better job on this issue; there are very few things more fundamental to the success of a society than the education of it’s citizenry.  The higher the educational base is, the more wealthy that nation is, the better the economy and the better the innovation.  Quite simply, education is the engine that drives a nations out of the grinding poverty of third world status into the ranks of modern nations.  And for the elite programs, it is what drives modern nations into Super Powers.

Education is key; we have to take that issue back.  And that is why this saddens me.

Today, the Wake County GOP issued a statement saying, in short, “We disagree with the Year Round calendar.  Parents, take your child out of school for a day to protest.”

Even if I agreed with the concept that Year Round calendars are bad, which I don’t, THIS is NOT the way to handle that conflict.  Grown adults sit down, reason and come to valid conclusions.  They do not, repeat do NOT use children in a game of chicken.

This is just one more reason why the GOP is finding itself struggling.

We Are In Trouble

I will try to be as simple as I can be:

Economics: The study of the distribution of scarce resources with alternate uses.

So, I am sitting reading the Internet today and come across this gem.

Some highlights:

  1. Allow the Governor to ration gas in similar situations.
  2. Allow the Governor to freeze fuel prices.

Look, this is simple.  Gas is a thing that if people were able to obtain for free, would soon run out; we wouldn’t have enough to go around.  So we have to ration it.  Today, we do this using money; as the price goes up, yuou may trend to use less, as the price goes down, you will tend to use more.  Now, what the government wants to do is end the normal market method of rationing it and put it into the hands of elected officials who have almost zero ability to have a complete understanding of the market forces.

The result will be predictable:  Lines.