Shift Focus From the Little Things

*Federal Budget Discussion Rant*

I’ve been watching for a while and the federal budget discussion is disgusting.  Fox News and MSNBC just keep feeding the rabid idiots with bad information. 

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people and the press are glomming onto line items that don’t matter.  For some reason the politicians have been able to successfully position this debate and make everyone believe that this is about “waste” or “excess” without addressing the reality – it is all broken and it is going to really really hurt to fix it. 

A harsh reality is that the “greatest generation” is to thank for building this country into what it is, and at the same time responsible for the core policies that have brought us to the precipice. 

I haven’t done a good political rant in a while so here is something I hope people start to realize. 


1. We can’t balance the federal budget without growth.  Period.  End of discussion.  No mathematician on earth can do it.  We need real growth, not this 1-2% nonsense.  You can’t legislate growth, no matter what politicians tell you.  This is something we all have to fix. 


2. We can’t “trim the fat” enough in the federal budget to get it back under control.  It is like believing that you can balance your household budget by cutting out toothpaste and going to cheaper toilet paper.  Both just make it miserable.


Ponder this, if we eliminated all foreign aide (less than 1%), all welfare (less than 6%), and the entire Department of Education (less than 4%) we would still be in the hole by about 7% or $245 billion dollars.  Stop worrying about the little things and endlessly going on with this incessant debate.  

Nearly 70% of the TOTAL federal budget goes to three categories; Defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security.  Defense is the sacred cow of the republican party, Social Security is the sacred cow of the Democrat Party, and no one wants to touch Medicare/Medicaid because seniors all vote.  We absolutely can not fix our long term issues without changing the way these three things are structured.  I don’t ever see that happening without major public pressure to do so. 

Right now there is none because we are all fixated on things like a militaristic shutdown of the National Parks and why we are sending money to Somalia…   


The solution for you and I is to stop voting people out of office that compromise.  We the people are to blame for ratcheting up the rhetoric.  Stop negatively labeling politicians as a “RHINO” or “Blue Dog Democrat.”  If there was ever a time in our history we needed some ugly ole fashion behind doors sausage making in Washington DC it is right now.  I’d trade some federal bill filled with horrible .00003% pork spending if it restructured Social Security and made it solvent for my generation.


*rant over*


Call me when the parks open back up.


A Culture of Surveillance

I watch the news and I read twitter. I love Flipbook. I’d consider myself up on current events. I’m blown away.

I’m scanning the headlines every day and cant help but wonder why more people aren’t people talking about our government monitoring your every move? This is scary. The implications are enormous. If you are part of the “I don’t have anything to hide crowd” you are naively justifying actions that you obviously don’t understand.

They are building a database on every person that eats and breathes. All in the name to “protect you.” Who watches the watchers? They are supposed to work for us after all. “In the name of National Security” shouldn’t be a Carte Blanche excuse to data mine everyone’s very existence.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised based on what is popular on television. In a strange way did Reality TV pave the way for the societal acceptance of this?

We are quickly deteriorating into a society of surveillance.

This is the absolute top news story in every country but this one and this society of Americans… of “freedom loving people”… is far more concerned with what Katniss will wear in the Next Hunger Games.

Every click on Facebook builds a profile on you, but you choose to use the product. The government taking that data and aggregating it with your life doesn’t provide you with a choice. They are tracking your car at every stop light. They are following your check ins. Sure you aren’t a “target” today… but what if you were unfairly accused some day? What if the politics swing and you end up having a viewpoint that needs to be “watched?” It may seem like I’m wearing a tin foil hat, but its all out there now.

I am at my wits end with frustration with all that is happening. I am flummoxed with the fact that there isn’t outrage from people that should be clearly outraged based on their actual principals.

Instead, I watch as people tow a party line and defend a party and president that doesn’t deserve your support. This feigning love affair with Barak Obama has me utterly baffled. He can get on that podium and people just fall into line.

See… I was under the assumption that liberal people valued the right to choice, privacy, and personal freedom above all else. Oh and you republicans… you supported the Patriot Act in droves back in 2001. Doesn’t feel as good now that the shoe is on the other foot?

I somewhat understand. I used to be far more partisan and defend the wrong ideological decisions based on nothing more than lemming loyalty. Actions people. Watch the actions of those in power. Stop being sheep. Ignorance is not bliss.

We have to collectively stand up to try to stem the tide. This is just the beginning.


I am not one of these conspiracy theorists.  I believe at their core most legislation is brought to a vote with absolute best intentions.  As a person that went without medical insurance in the past I fully realize the medical system we have is broken.  However, the reason I am against almost all government intervention is that even the best intentions in legislation are paved with many unintended consequences in application.   You just can’t stop people from finding the cheapest solution for them.  In practice very few will make the final decision based on the “greater good.”

If you are a big fan of the new Affordable Care Act be prepared for some unintended consequences.  If you think this doesn’t affect you or universally makes your life better – I encourage you to review the legislation beyond the intended benefit and look at it from a realistic implementation standpoint.  Contrary to the title of the law, things are going to get more expensive.  For everyone.  In the end this will help some, but at what cost?

I will post some thoughts today – not intended to be snarky – just my honest thoughts on some of the likely fallout that will affect many.

Affordable Care Act
Best Intentions Unintended Consequence #1:

All medium sized employers, defined as employing over 50 persons, must provide health insurance for their workers or face a penalty.  The tax penalty for not complying would be $2,000 per employee.

Real World Application:  A full service restaurant that employs 58 people would now have to comply.  Providing this insurance is a new expense, the money doesn’t just appear.  This business owner will analyze the cost of providing insurance against the tax penalty.   Let’s say for argument sake the private health insurance cost is about $300 per month per employee.  For 58 employee providing the insurance could be around $210,000 or the penalty would be $116,000.  Easy choice right?  Well the business owner will see that no matter what their current bottom line is affected by a minimum $116K without either significantly increasing business or raising prices.

Increasing revenue is difficult and prices are set by what the market will bear.  How do you think raising menu prices by 15% will affect people going out to dinner?  Their customer base will drop – people may still come out, but come out less.  That 15% increase isn’t just manufactured, that is put off to you and I as the consumer…  Additionally, if more people go out to dinner less often the business owner still sees revenue drop even with the menu price increase.  They are then forced to either lay off workers or go out of business.

What is even more likely to happen is that employers on the cusp of the 50 employee limit will cut their workforce to 49 persons and take themselves off the formal payroll.  Nine employees in this case were just laid off to no fault of their own.  The owner didn’t want to do it, but financial survival necessitates the decision.  Those nine employees were not only negatively impacted from a loss of income they are also now in the public care for health insurance thanks to this law.  We pay thrice – once in the loss of tax revenue, once in the increased cost of goods, and also in the increased cost to more people being on the assisted care.  Those same nine people once excited about getting health insurance are now not so excited about not having a job at all.

Do you think this cost doesn’t get passed onto the consumer?  A consumer that has less and less expendable income.  What will happen when the Fed stops artificially pushing down interest rates and we have real inflation to deal with all this debt?  Your money would be squeezed all the more.  The average person ends up being crushed financially, not the “big evil insurance companies”…

Affordable Care Act
Best Intentions Unintended Consequence #2:

Three major changes occurred in the legislation intending to correct an unfair practice; if you are already sick, you are screwed – no one will cover you.  Also in our previous system, if you are elderly your insurance will cost so much you can’t afford it.  The elderly overwhelmingly end up on Medicare, which limits your care and choices.  Private insurance companies to this because the elderly are a far bigger medical risk than say a 23 year old.  It sucks.  We all get that.

Per the Affordable Care Act: the elderly cannot be charged a premium higher than 3x what is charged a young healthy person, an insurance company may no longer deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, and anyone that does not carry insurance will be required to pay a $695 penalty.  These three things coupled together are intended to encourage all people to be on insurance and the added cost of the sick and elderly is “offset” by using the combination of a larger pool of customer + the young’s raised insurance premiums.

(NOTE: This tax penalty of $695 is intended to go to the government sponsored stop gap, Medicaid.  I’ll tell you that $695 doesn’t go very far when paying for a hospitalization…  That budget hole is something else we will have to deal with.)

The real issue is that young people don’t have any money and it isn’t like they are going to magically get paid more tomorrow to cover this added cost.  Many young people will figure out that it is far cheaper to pay the $695 penalty then pay for an insurance premium – which they already don’t pay and which is now going to increase to cover the cost of the elderly.  Also, since the law requires insurance companies to take all comers, regardless of medical condition, one can now sign up for insurance the moment after something occurs for which they require medical care.

So… what WILL occur in many cases is that one can choose to pay the penalty rather than the costly insurance, than IF something happens sign up for insurance care, which by law they have to provide.  After treatment is complete that person could then drop the insurance again.  It becomes a shell game.  Didn’t get sick this year – did just fine – next year got really unlucky and had a debilitating car accident – got signed up for insurance.

Insurance companies will find a way to manage their risk and make up this loss.  Once again, the money isn’t just manufactured out of thin air.  Where does the money come from to cover all these new expenses?  Ah… the real unintended consequence…  Once insurance rates rise to cover this potential loss the average person will be more and more willing to pay the penalty rather than these increased premiums.  The only possible way then for insurance companies to make up the difference after this shell game compounds is by passing on the added cost to the employers already providing health care for their workers.

Currently the second highest cost for businesses in the United States is Health Care Premiums, right behind salaries and above rent.  The cost of health care could overtake salaries in short order as the largest single expense for employers.  As stated previously, drastically increasing revenue to cover these huge new costs doesn’t come easy.  Something will have to give.  Remember that raise you thought you were entitled to?  It just went to cover the cost of your 11% premium increase.

This will slow the economy and job creation.  Two things we didn’t need right now.  Don’t think I’m right?  I hope you are correct then.  My viewpoint is that this is a bad law with the best intentions.