Monday, July 20, 2009

Where have all the doctors gone . . .

I have heard Congress, B. Hussein Obama, Breda's Fallacy, Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest, Victoria Jackson of SNL fame, and others decry the $1000 fine for not buying health insurance, making it illegal for health insurers to write new policies after Obamacare starts, etc.

So - what does the AMA have to say? Where are all the doctors, the ones with dependents, families, friends and communities? The doctors with careers invested in various communities and organizations?

What about the local and city hospitals, the medical schools and teaching hospitals?

What happens to research when medical care is doled out?

And why does anyone think that doctors won't retire en masse, migrate to a real country, or go black market?

Yes, I expect that B. Hussein Obama, retired Senators, and captains of industry and churches will continue to receive premium health care, and not through Obamacare. Just look at the amount of money that is made trafficing in drugs. Now consider what socialized medicine will do - reduce the practice of medicine to the midwife and physician's assistant. With all the real money to be made in medicine "off the books". Sounds like a Chicago gangland recipe for personal aggrandizement.

Victoria Jackson's post is being touted as absurd and wacko. But she does have a point. I disagree - vehemently - on the social and personal impact, and underlying assumptions, about abortion. But her assertion that the point of Obamacare is to euthanize (legally cause people to die, in a health care setting) undesirables makes sense. From one perspective, killing sick people costs less than treating them. Especially if they are feeble, or deformed, or maimed, or . . . there are just too many caucasians, or whatever. And B. Hussein Obama has already, in the Hate Crimes bill, defined that heterosexual caucasians cannot be victims of a hate crime, because they may not be considered a "protected class". That is in the process of becoming law, and anyone that doesn't think that will affect Obamacare is deluded.

What gets me, is creating a health care plan without statements of support from the people involved - the emergency and ambulance services, the doctors, the hospitals, the clinics. We stand to gain a government bureaucracy and *drafted* doctors. Or maybe just civil servants that want to transfer and work as doctors for a couple months.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Unemployment: a double edged sword

First, let me predict that unemployment will show a significant increase in July and August. In related news, the second step of Congress' increase in minimum wage takes place mid-July. $7.65 an hour, for the same productivity, for minimum wage earners, that was $5.15. Wow. How many companies, managing their business, appreciate seeing their payroll jump without getting anything extra - except a corresponding increase in the amount of taxes the employer pays on payroll.

There is a flip side to raising the federal minimum wage rate. Many employers, including mine, let many promotions go the last two years. In fact, I have gone from $0.80 above minimum wage, to $0.25 above - to minimum wage. This is simple economics, I now get paid more than I did two years ago, but still make the same as a still-in-high-school new hire. That adds to a lot of job satisfaction. Some places use the nickel and dime differences in wage to express relative authority and achievement in skill. Losing that stratification erodes the likelihood of people remaining with the employer.

There is a social cache to making more money than minimum wage. Job churning, changing jobs within an industry for a real or perceived advantage, costs the employers involved, and their industry, and the community.

Think about it. Someone coming to work has a half day or a week to read company policies, fill out government and company forms, insurance, etc. Paid time that doesn't benefit the employer. Then there is time to come up to speed. A very experienced new hire may be able to get right to work - but won't be as valuable to the new employer for some time, maybe days, maybe months. It depends on the environment.

Meanwhile the employer that lost a valued worker - has a gap in the ability to produce. It takes time, money, and effort to locate and recruit suitable replacements, interview and evaluate, and choose to hire or not. Even with unemployment high, or especially with unemployment high, employers face a daunting task: Countless gurus and government agencies have been teaching people to "game" the system. To get their foot in the door and hopefully even get hired - when they are not qualified for the job they are applying for. Head hunters, job placement programs, many of them get paid for number. Numbers of people getting a job offer. Very few get paid depending on whether the person hired was truthful and accurate, and well suited to the work as assessed six months after the hire date.

This matters. Because whether B. Hussein Obama and the Pelosi/Reid axis raise taxes and increase regularions, or replacing a valued employee, the company loses money and time and effort that could have been used serving the community. The company makes less money. Less money gets spent in the community, and other jobs are put at risk.

And that brings me to unemployment. Washington, DC wants us to think that unemployment is about people not working. It is. But it is also about companies not making money, not contributing to the community.

And every industry that involves a company that loses a worker for any reason, loses. The industry and community lose a worker that has spend years, often, learning a trade and acquiring skill and experience at producing, and making a profit for the company, industry, community, and nation. Keeping jobs secure, keeping the company's products and services available, growing the national and local economy. Each job lost turns that productivity into a cost, a reduction in productivity, even if the worker finds the same job with a new employer within hours. The new employer must process in and train, evaluate, and otherwise spend resources and time, before that worker can again apply skill and experience in the new environment.

Where someone is underemployed or otherwise changes fields the cycle is more painful. Disparaging remarks about flipping burgers and working at McDonalds overlook the cost to the community of replacing those oh-so-easily-trained high school kids, retirees, and others that can't find work somewhere else. Where someone was a valued worker elsewhere, the national and local economy, and the industry involved, lose experience and skill sets that took years or decades to develop. Those skills are no longer available; the national economy is permanently reduced. For the new person at McDonalds the impact is more personal, learning new job skills in an industry where people routinely lose their job for simple errors and mistakes, accommodating changes in lifestyle and impacts to family expectations and needs, these things do settle down. But the community lost, the nation lost, the families involved all lost.

Companies don't shut down without spending a lot of money. Some of it is in debts that don't get repaid, that hazard other companies' ability to continue contributing to the economy. Some of the money comes from company assets that won't be available to distribute to shareholders and owners, so they can reinvest the money. Starting up again, or taking back people that have been laid off - again, it costs. Most people are changed when they change jobs. When the change is involuntary, they change even more. Not all people are suitable any longer for a job they once held. Changes in work group dynamics when one or more people don't return, or new people are added, threaten or delay productivity expectations.

Playing with unemployment numbers as a reason or means to criticize the President or Congress is petty. The fact that regulations, taxes, and games with fiscal policy impact unemployment - that is, the ability of the nation to function - should be sufficient to decry or laud efforts.

I have been told, no one ever got rich working with their hands. The money, the impact or power, is in having people work for you. I guess the next step up would be financing people that have people working for them, or maybe politicians making regulations that affect others. One person can impair the ability of others to live and work - terrorists and suicide bombers, and mass shooters are examples we live with. To build something, a craftsman or gardener can supply a family, or a community. To make a significant contribution to the nation, though, it takes the work of many. Many people to build the warships and weapons that maintain our security on the seas and in the air. Many people to grow the food that feeds our cities and towns. Many people to provide and transport and service the things we need, from food and clothes to MP3 players and iPhones. Many people to care for our neighbors.

Unemployment threatens us as much as an army marching on our land. Regulations and taxes that "redistribute wealth" and "limit corporations" weaken our ability to feed and clothe ourselves, to keep other nations from deciding to conquer and take our resources.

Some regulations are needed; unbridled capitalism can lead to monopolies that punish competition, and weaken the economy and the nation. But hating the wealthy is not healthy either. It is the holders and accumulators of wealth that have the resources and experience to take advantage of opportunities.

Companies making money and wealthy people can hire people, and reduce the number of unemployed. Not governments, not communities, not regulations, and not taxes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

S. 909 - Obama's "Hate Whitey" bill

Already introduced onto the floor of the Senate, Senate bill 909 is slated for fast track action. The time is slipping by to try to stop this horrendous "Hate Whitey" attack on equal justice for all.

Net Right Nation monitors right-of-center bloggers.

The highly charged "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009" (S. 909) would make it a federal crime to violently attack anyone you hate.

Unless, of course, the anyone you hate happens to be a white heterosexual.

In the same NRN piece,

So, let’s get this straight: If Messrs. Obama and [Attorney General Eric] Holder have their way, the United States government – once fondly known as the “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” -- will begin prosecuting some of “the people” and protecting others among “the people” solely based upon said people’s skin color and sexual orientation?

Precisely. For you see, under S. 909, certain members of our society, primarily determined by the color of their skin and the lusts in their hearts, are what Obama and Holder call “protected classes.”

This is *not* a "slippery slope". This is *not* something a bit risky that might lead to something worse. S. 909 is the worse. This is the "divide and conquer" that classic warriors have found so successful.

Call your Senator. Please stop this legalized bigotry. Bigotry didn't strengthen our country before, it isn't likely to this time, either.

What next? Indentured servants - enslavement for non-payment of debts or taxes? Except among the "protected classes", I imagine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

47 years of government waste - the legacy of Robert McNamara

Robert McNamara served President John F. Kennedy as Secretary of Defense, and again as Sec of Defense under Lyndon B. Johnson. McNamara certainly didn't lose the Vietnam War by himself, but he didn't win it, either, and he didn't keep it from becoming a symbol of American patriotism and valor largely wasted.

A legacy of evil

McNamara was, however, indisputably the father of the $600 hammer, the golden toilet seat, and generations of overpriced government procurement.

McNamara invented today's "Federal Acquisition Regulations" that grew to encompass many fine careers, and to disillusion multitudes that wanted to see our armed services using the best equipment at reasonable prices.

If it isn't broke . . .

Robert "Bean Counter" McNamara changed the way the government bought things.

One of the astounding graces and strengths of America was the incredibly rapid way new weapons and equipment, from planes and ships to bombs, radios, and radars, went from concept to deployed in the field. Weapon makers and suppliers would visit the military offices, discuss what was needed, return with a prototype or 20, and get an order for a dozen or a thousand or more.

Leveraging car maker success to "improve" the government

Working in a era should have been aware of the ability to apply America's then-devastating might of industry to security problems, just after the Korean conflict, and during the explosion of the French fiasco in Vietnam to an American assistance, to an American hotbed of conflict - McNamara decided to apply accounting and automaker style "good business practices" to military procurement.

Evaluating business forms instead of working equipment

I recall being in St. Louis, MO, when Boeing was competing for a new fighter design, maybe the F-22. Their working prototype, their plane that flew, was rejected in favor of a competitor that won on the strength of their paperwork, and a design several years - and many millions of dollars - away from flying.

It looked good on paper

McNamara's claim was to open procurement to competition to keep prices down, to give competitors a "fair" access to all the pertinent requirements, to open the way for innovation and competition to provide the "best" design.

What really happened was to invent a new layer or three of bureaucracy build exclusively to manage the process of issuing requests for proposals, managing proposals received from potential suppliers, evaluating the proposals, selecting the provider, monitoring how the contract was performed, checking for required quality, and monitoring the conclusion, extensions, and more importantly, all the changes to the contract because what they ordered built wasn't what was needed.

Wasting resources to waste time to hide ineptness

Instead of relying on companies with skilled engineers, our current procurement process requires that the services and other entities in government use people skilled in capturing what is needed - three or four years in the future - into documented "requirements". Heaven forbid any competing contractor-candidate should use actual knowledge of what the customer needs. That might be unfair business practice, used to keep competitors out of the market.

Build a bigger empire, and you may not get caught

Then the government needed highly skilled people to do the business and contracting things - all highly skilled tasks.

And contractors don't just have to build quality planes and boats and toilets - they have to document, to the satisfaction of government program teams and FAR satisfaction that they meet the stated program requirements - not "what the customer needs", because that isn't the contract. The contract that is written is for the contractor to meet the requirements stated in the proposal.

And the first step is to have all interested contractors engineer a result, so that the government can compare the proposed solutions to the request for proposal.

It can literally cost $590 dollars for a contractor to engineer and perform required oversight, review, and documentation, to order a $10 hammer from Ace Hardware or the makers of Estes or Plumb hammers. Especially when it costs the contractor several hundred dollars to formally request clarification and documented answers to questions - like, do you want a hammer to build a house, or to fashion metal parts?

Waste in the name of blame-dodging

McNamara invented the notion that layers of paper-checking and previewing engineering - and having several independent teams of engineers wasting their time on unused solutions - was a useful application of American skill and talent. And money.

RIP, Robert McNamara, "May God bless and keep the Czar . . . far from Anatevka!"

I can't decide if I want to see McNamara buried with his legacy - on a golden toilet seat - or without, in a pine box. To be fair, I have seen some beautifully made simple wooden caskets, handmade with respect and reverence. The last one I saw was Amish made, a people that eschew everything about national government and government regulations.