You tell ‘em, Mr. Obama!

The weaker you are, the louder you bark.

Masashi Kishimoto

We are more often treacherous through weakness than through (strength).

Francios de La Rochefoucauld

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

As you know I usually do not comment on foreign affairs in my posts, but yesterday the President did something so embarrassing that it is hard to remain silent. He sent 150 troops to Poland as a show of force. Yes, that number is accurate. It wasn’t 150,000 troops or 15,000 troops or even 1,500 troops. It was ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TROOPS to demonstrate our commitment to a NATO partner. This, of course, is only the first installment of what will be approximately 600 troops sent. The remaining 450 troops are heading to each of three countries — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — in rotational deployments that the Pentagon says will be sustained until further notice. Thus, each nation’s forces will be augmented by ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY American fighting men and women. I would be the last person to denigrate the skills and abilities of 150 American infantrymen. However, Russia has approximately 800,000 active military and 2,000,000 reserves. You do the math. Mr. Putin must be quaking in his boots! As Helen Keller famously said, “The only thing worse than being blind is to have sight but no vision.”

Possibly worse still was the fact the Vice-President Biden went to Ukraine and promised his support. He said the United States is willing to shell out $50 million to prove it. The federal government spent $3.8 trillion last year. Fifty million dollars is slightly more than one one-thousandth of one percent of the budget. Again, our Ukrainian ally must be pleased as punch. Possibly more embarrassing is that the money is to be spent to fight corruption in Ukraine, not to fight Russia. We should have spent it for that purpose in Washington, DC where it may have done some good. As it is the Ukrainian President must be wondering what has happened to the world’s only “superpower.”

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, but perhaps democrat primary voters should have paid more attention to her political ad in 2008. To view the ad you must click on the image below and then click again on the dark screen.

Roy Filly

 

 

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How Americans die.

The following is an interactive series of charts published by Bloomberg View and compiled and written by Matthew C. Klein. It is not so grim as the title suggests. I think you will find it very interesting and it never complains about “big government” even once. It will be a refreshing change from my usual drivel.

http://www.bloomberg.com/dataview/2014-04-17/how-americans-die.html

And thanks to JM for forwarding this to me.

Roy Filly

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Sad Facts.

The following are odds and ends. They are interesting, but sad. There is an old Jewish saying, “So who’s watching the store?” When government becomes massive everyone thinks someone else is “watching the store.”

[Source: How to assist evil, by Walter E. Williams]

The 20th century turned out to be mankind’s most barbaric. Roughly 50 million to 60 million people died in international and civil wars. As tragic as that number is, it pales in comparison with the number of people who were killed at the hands of their own government. Recently deceased Rudolph J. Rummel, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii and author of “Death by Government,” estimated that since the beginning of the 20th century, governments have killed 170 million of their own citizens. Top government killers were the Soviet Union, which, between 1917 and 1987, killed 62 million of its own citizens, and the People’s Republic of China, which, between 1949 and 1987, was responsible for the deaths of 35 million to 40 million of its citizens. In a distant third place were the Nazis, who murdered about 16 million Jews, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians and others deemed misfits, such as homosexuals and the mentally ill.

Please note: These three nations were either communists (Soviet Union and China) or socialists (Germany’s National Socialist German Workers Party – Nazi). How does the left get away with their “holier than thou” condemnation of conservatives?

[Source: The charts Obama doesn’t want you to see, by Ann Payne]

Medicarecuts-1024x768

The following is from a letter to all University of California, San Francisco employees from our CEO, Mark Laret:

Compared to this year, by 2016, UCSF Medical Center will face reduced reimbursement of approximately $75 million annually associated with healthcare reform; and simultaneously face increased costs of $175 million…  This means that a $100 million operating gain at UCSF Medical Center this year (2013) would become an unacceptable $170 million operating loss in 2016… 

[Source: Rethinking Tax Benefits for Home Owners, by Andrew Hanson, Ike Brannon and Zackary Hawley]

The tax code contains numerous benefits for homeowners. The largest is the mortgage-interest deduction (allowing homeowners to deduct interest paid on their mortgages from their taxable income). The idea behind these tax benefits is that they encourage homeownership. But in reality, they are regressive and expensive, and there is no indication that they actually do increase ownership…

So what do these tax expenditures actually do? They lead to the purchase of larger homes and the greater use of debt financing.

  • The mortgage-interest deduction actually increases the size of homes purchased by people who would otherwise purchase a smaller one, but it does not encourage owning rather than renting.
  • It is estimated that average home sizes increase by 11 to 18 percent due to the deduction. Basically, without the mortgage interest deduction, homeownership would not decrease, it would just mean that homeowners would be purchasing smaller homes than they currently purchase.
  • Moreover, the deduction applies to the portion of a home financed by debt, so it ends up encouraging greater debt financing than would otherwise be the case.

I benefit from this tax expenditure. I shouldn’t. Canada doesn’t have it. Thus, Canadians tend to borrow less and pay down their mortgages. Canada wasn’t as severely pummeled when the housing bubble burst.

[Source: Every Central Bank for Itself, by John Mauldin]

By trying to shore up their rich-world economies with unconventional policies such as ultra-low rate targets, outright balance sheet expansion, and aggressive forward guidance, major central banks have distorted international real interest rate differentials and forced savers to seek out higher (and far riskier) returns for more than five years.

This initiative has fueled enormous overinvestment and capital misallocation – and not just in advanced economies like the United States.

As it turns out, the biggest QE-induced imbalances may be in emerging markets, where, even in the face of deteriorating fundamentals, accumulated capital inflows (excluding China) have nearly DOUBLED, from roughly $5 trillion in 2009 to nearly $10 trillion today. After such a dramatic rise in developed-world portfolio allocations and direct lending to emerging markets, developed-world investors now hold roughly one-third of all emerging-market stocks by market capitalization and also about one-third of all outstanding emerging-market bonds.

The Fed might as well have aimed its big bazooka right at the emerging world. That’s where a lot of the easy money ran blindly in search of more attractive real interest rates, bolstered by a broadly accepted growth story.

When this money decides to “run away” from emerging economies the proverbial sh*t will hit the fan!

['Marriage' penalty takes a bite out of working families, by Catherine Rampell]

The first dollar of (a married person’s) earnings will be taxed at the same marginal rate as the last dollar of (their spouse’s)… income. Since marginal tax rates rise as earnings increase, that means (married couples) will have a higher tax liability as working spouses than (they would) as working single people. This higher tax burden is known as the “marriage penalty.”

The people who really suffer from the marriage penalty are lower-income families with young children — you know, those people constantly scolded by the Family Values Police for eschewing the bonds of holy matrimony or for being too lazy to work.

Consider a family in which the husband earns $25,000 and the wife stays home to care for their children… This family would face a series of painful “marriage penalties” if the mother decides to join the paid labor force.

If she takes on a $25,000 job, the family would lose the entirety of their earned-income tax credit — about $5,000 — and pay an additional $6,000 in payroll and federal income taxes, according to calculations from a recent report by the Hamilton Project, a nonpartisan think tank. This family would also lose access to about $2,600 worth of food stamp benefits, as well as other means-tested benefits, such as Medicaid. (The exact amount of lost benefits depends on which state they live in.)

The Republicans got rid of the ‘marriage penalty’ in the Reagan tax act of 1986. It has sadly worked its way back into the tax structure. There have been more than 15000 changes to the tax code since the historic coming together of Democrats and Republicans in Reagan tax act of 1986. In the years from 2001 to 2008, a mere 7 years, there there were more than 3,250 changes to the tax code, an average of more than one a day, including more than 500 changes in 2008 alone. The current tax code is not only indecipherable and financially penalizes marriage, it discourages marriage. The straightest path to poverty is to be an unmarried person with children. Is this how altruists help the poor? But don’t expect the tax code to be simplified. It is the best means available to incumbents of both parties to extract campaign donations.

Roy Filly

 

 

 

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Government waste. Is there no end to this?

I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it’s only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater.

Milton Friedman

I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.

Ronald Reagan

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

Ronald Reagan

That government bureaucracies waste money is a melody that has been played since I was a boy. When will our federal government do something about it? Whoever said that, “Every dollar in the federal budget has a constituency,” was absolutely, completely, utterly, unreservedly, positively, categorically and unequivocally correct.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a recent report. The following is from the GAO website. “The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes.”

So here we have a government agency inaugurated to stop waste in government. However, when report after report says… guess? Right you are! Our federal government is a morass of duplication and waste one must ask will this ever come to an end or must we first go broke? The following is a small portion of their report.

[Source: George Korte, "Government Often Has 10 Agencies Doing One Job," USA Today]

I am very much in favor of our government doing whatever is within its power to stem the AIDS epidemic. Actually, they have done a lot and Americans should be proud of this accomplishment. The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief was a commitment of $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) initiated by President Bush. The massive funding increases have made anti-retrovirals widely available throughout Africa and saved millions of lives.

Having said that, exactly how many Federal Agencies are needed to address AIDS in US minority communities? One, two, three… more? How about 10 different federal agencies?

Autism is a growing problem in America. Again, efforts by our government are appropriate to learn more about why the increase in cases is occurring and is there anything that can be done to reverse the tide. However, do we need 11 separate agencies doing exactly the same thing? Somehow I don’t think so!

I believe we owe it to every American in uniform to search for prisoners of war and Americans missing in action. We should be relentless in our search. But do we need eight separate agencies with the Department of Defense to conduct the search?

In past reports, the GAO has identified 162 areas marked by fragmentation, duplication, overlap and inefficiency.This year, the GAO added 26 new areas to that list. The problem is expanding when it should be contracting. Republican Senator Tom Coburn authored the legislation that requires these yearly reports from the GAO, and he urged lawmakers to take this list and make cuts to the budget. Sadly, Senator Coburn is retiring. Perhaps Senator Reid will take up the gauntlet? (When you get off the floor from laughing, please continue reading.)

How much money is wasted because of duplication? It is impossible to tell. The government does not keep track of the programs for which each agency is responsible. Thus, taxpayers have no idea how much money is being wasted! I would say that there is method to this madness. Darrell Issa, Republican congressman from California, has sponsored legislation that would require better tracking of spending data on money transferred from Congress to an agency to its final destination. The bill passed the House and is awaiting a Senate vote. Senator Reid will undoubtedly throw his complete support behind this bill. (Again, when you get off the floor from laughing, the good news is that I am done.)

Big government is bad government.

Roy Filly

 

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Israel made me beat my wife!

When will we rid ourselves of the United Nations? I can accept the fact that there are do nothing organizations. If the United Nations simply did nothing, I might be more lenient in my condemnation. But, no. They do things and the things they do are beyond ridiculous. An example is the election of the following 5 countries to the UN Human Rights Council. The new elected member nations include China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Vietnam. The human rights records of these nations is… shall we say, suspect. The seats were won UNOPPOSED! These are nations that have denied access to the UN Human Rights Council monitors keen to investigate alleged abuses. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) actually nominated Syria to the council.

This council frequently criticizes Israel. They, however, have repeatedly failed to adopt any resolution that has been critical of China, Russia or Saudi Arabia. The latest criticism of Israel is nearly beyond belief. I take that back. IT IS BEYOND BELIEF! The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, blames Israel for Palestinian men beating their wives. That’s right! Israel made me beat my wife! In a report she sent to the UN’s Human Rights Council and obtained by UN Watch Pillay states:

“Women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory face multiple layers of violence and discrimination. The analysis made by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women… found that the combination of decades of Israeli occupation, the use of force against Palestinians by Israel, the different forms of resistance used by Palestinians against such use of force… expose women to a continuum of violence…”

The left-wing media dove right in with interviews of Palestinian women. Here is a quote published by The Guardian:

“Before the blockade, my husband used to make good money working in Israel,” she says. “With the blockade, that all stopped. When he can’t find any work and we have nothing to eat, he blames me. He is like a crazy animal. I stay quiet when he hits me. Afterwards, he cries and says, if he had a job, he wouldn’t beat me.”

Considering that Israel left Gaza in 2005, it’s somewhat bizarre that “the occupation” is having such a negative impact on women’s rights in the territory. Possibly, the Qur’an may have something more to do with the problem than Israel.

“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.

Please be advised. This post is not meant as an indictment of Muslim men or the Qur’an. Every Muslim that I know is gentle of spirit, intelligent and hard-working. I am certain that scholars could point to sentences in the Bible that would embarrass Christians and Jews. It is meant to point yet again to one of myriad ludicrous positions adopted by the United Nations.

The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations and its affiliated funds, programs, and specialized agencies. But nailing down precisely how much we pay into the U.N. system every year is no easy task. Although most U.S. contributions come from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, hundreds of millions of dollars also flow into the U.N. system from other parts of the federal government. For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides funding to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Department of Energy gives money to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services supports the World Health Organization. Finally, some valid information became available. Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) asked former OMB director Rob Portman for a comprehensive report on total U.S. contributions to the U.N. system. I was able to find data for 2004 and 2005. The OMB calculated that U.S. contributions totaled $4.115 billion in 2004 and $5.327 billion in 2005. 

Oh, how nice. God help us. And thanks to PCoop for putting me on to this.

Roy Filly

 

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These are the people that are “extricating” the USA from Afghanistan

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Mike Tyson

My opinion of the Obama “administration” is that their ability to “administrate” is abysmal. I did not think it was possible for my opinion to sink still lower. Oops. I was wrong. The Obama administration has a “plan” to extricate the USA from Afghanistan. Listen to these administration officials as they answer what should be extraordinarily easy questions for them. Are these the officials that will implement our nation’s economic departure from the longest war in our history? As Mike Tyson stated above, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,” but these gentlemen do not seem to have gone even that far.

You can just listen to the first three answers. That should be sufficient to send you to the restroom to vomit.

And thanks to JM for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

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Medicare opens the books on payments to physicians

There was a recent brouhaha in the news. Pursuant to a court order, Medicare now allows anyone to look up how much any physician bills Medicare. The news media of course focused on a small number of physicians that billed large amounts to Medicare. I would agree that some physicians billed very large sums and if these billings were in any way fraudulent, those physicians should be punished under the law.

However, the left-wing media overlooked some basic observations. An analysis of the data would cause anyone to wonder why a physician would ever take on a Medicare patient.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that $77.4 billion was paid to 880,000 doctors in 2012. That calculates to approximately $87,000 per doctor. Given that many doctors have more than 50% of cases from Medicare, that’s a salary of under 200k. No one is saying that physicians do not earn sufficient funds to live well. However, many physicians earn less than the general public would suspect (see footnote) based on the length and rigors of their education. Also, the challenges of getting into medical school means that physicians, as a general group, are among the most intelligent Americans. They undoubtedly could choose from many possible jobs or professions.

Many of the more highly compensated surgical specialties require 6 years (sometimes more) training after medical school. Students complete medical school with a median debt of $180,000 (11% have a debt exceeding $300,000). So doctors are doing well financially but it was a long and expensive process.

By comparison investment bankers are expected to get the following bonuses this year:

[Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/wall-street-bonus-predictions-2014-1]

Credit Suisse                               $388,000

Deutche Bank                              $315,000

Goldman Sachs                           $427,000

And, again, those are bonuses over and above salary. My personal preference is that I would rather that my internist earns $200,000 per year than my investment broker earns $400,000.

My point here is not that doctors do not earn enviable salaries or that I begrudge the earnings of investment bankers. Neither is the case. My point is that an analysis of the CMS data will cause you to question why I, as a physician, would ever see a Medicare patient?  Seeing Medicare patients is tantamount to doing charity work. It is unambiguously charity work when physicians see a Medicaid (MediCal) patient. To demonstrate this fact I will do something unusual. You can look up my billing and reimbursement for Medicare patients. If you go to the site below simply put in “Filly” and “Diagnostic Radiologist” and hit “Search.” You do not need to put in a zip code. The data will appear below the search tool. The page will not change.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/09/health/medicare-doctor-database.html?_r=1

You must be at least a little shocked to see the difference between the average amount billed to Medicare versus the average amount reimbursed. Below are listed some items from the data. Importantly, the manner of presentation of the CMS data is flawed. The “average billed” amount for a diagnostic radiologist includes both a “technical” fee and a “professional” fee. The technical fee covers the cost of the equipment, technologist, room, utilities, ancillary help (receptionist, janitors, security, etc.), insurance – and the list goes on. On average you may assume that 2/3 of the “average billed” amount is a technical fee and in my world that money goes directly to the hospital. The professional fee (approximately 1/3 of the “average billed amount”) is the charge for my services. I am salaried, so in my case that money goes to the Department of Radiology who in turn pays me a fixed salary. Nonetheless, if I do not earn enough to cover my salary, you can rest assured the Department of Radiology will either bid me adieu or lower my salary.

———————————————Average Billed     Ave Payment (% of billed)

Abdominal Ultrasound Complete               $764                           $30 (3.9%)

Ultrasound of the pelvis, female                 $502                           $26 (5.2%)

Ultrasound of the carotid arteries              $978                           $22 (2.2%)

Again, the data is presented as though the “average billed” is entirely for the physician. But, if it were “true” I would be paid as little as 2.2% of the billed amount. In actuality the professional fee for a carotid artery sonogram would be between $300 – $350. Thus, CMS pays me about 7% of the amount I believe the service is worth. In Marin County, California where I live a plumber will not come to my house for less than $150.

Now imagine the federal government buying a fleet of 20 Mercedes Benz E350 sedans (average price to you would be around $65,000). The government tells the dealer that they will only pay $16,830 per car (2.2%). How long will that Mercedes dealer be in business?

The poor reimbursement of the federal and state governments for medical services is mostly made up for by private insurance companies. So if you are wondering why private insurance costs so much you largely have your answer.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

This Physician Salary Survey is based on a recent nationwide, confidential survey of over 80,000 practicing physicians as well as over 40,000 newly graduated physicians in each specialty listed below.

Specialty National 6 yrs Practicing Average Median Starting Range
Allergy & Immunology $246,000.00 $190,000.00
Anesthesiology $360,000.00 $265,000.00
Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery $522,875.00 $360,000.00
Cardiology $402,000.00 $272,000.00
Colon & Rectal Surgery $389,700.00 $290,000.00
Critical Care Medicine $258,750.00 $198,000.00
Dermatology $365,450.00 $234,000.00
Diagnostic Radiology – Interventional $469,800.00 $335,000.00
Diagnostic Radiology – Non-Interventional $444,850.00 $330,000.00
Endocrinology $214,550.00 $165,000.00
Family Medicine $199,850.00 $138,000.00
Family Medicine – with Obstetrics $207,900.00 $142,000.00
Gastroenterology $398,800.00 $272,000.00
General Surgery $350,000.00 $225,000.00
Gynecological Oncology $402,000.00 $300,000.00
Gynecology $233,000.00 $210,000.00
Gynecology & Obstetrics $279,750.00 $200,000.00
Hematology & Medical Oncology $314,800.00 $222,000.00
Hospitalist $210,950.00 $165,000.00
Nephrology $252,000.00 $180,000.00
Infectious Disease $225,000.00 $158,000.00
Internal Medicine $208,790.00 $145,000.00
Neonatology $275,400.00 $196,000.00
Neurological Surgery $589,500.00 $395,000.00
Neurology $237,000.00 $190,000.00
Ophthalmology $248,000.00 $210,000.00
Orthopedic Surgery $485,500.00 $315,000.00
Orthopedic Surgery – Pediatrics $395,420.00 $318,000.00
Orthopedic Surgery – Spine $625,000.00 $465,000.00
Otolaryngology $350,000.00 $222,000.00
Pediatric Cardiology $230,900.00 $189,000.00
Pediatric Endocrinology $187,600.00 $170,000.00
Pediatric Gastroenterology $230,500.00 $175,000.00
Pediatric Hematology / Oncology $210,000.00 $175,000.00
Pediatric Infectious Disease $205,00.00 $173,000.00
Pediatric Intensive Care $252,500.00 $195,000.00
Pediatric Nephrology $196,000.00 $172,000.00
Pediatric Neurology $218,200.00 $182,000.00
Pediatric Pulmonary Disease $190,000.00 $162,000.00
Pediatric Surgery $401,000.00 $295,000.00
Pediatrics $202,500.00 $162,000.00
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation $233,300.00 $178,000.00
Plastic  Surgery $382,000.00 $273,000.00
Psychiatry $211,000.00 $165,000.00
Psychiatry – Child $218,300.00 $159,000.00
Pulmonary Disease $298,000.00 $191,500.00
Rheumatology $220,500.00 $163,500.00
Trauma Surgery $400,000.00 $298,000.00
Urgent Care $215,000.00 $142,000.00
Urology $400,000.00 $250,000.00
Vascular Surgery $405,000.00 $259,400.00

 

 

 

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Is writing a coherent political blog a waste of my time?

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. 

Thomas Jefferson

Obama believes that the American electorate is easily distracted. Benghazi, IRS targeting of Tea Party Groups, spying on Associated Press journalists, the secret indictment of journalist James Rosen, the “Fast and Furious” gun running scandal and Solyndra are all topics the president wants to avoid during the upcoming election. President Obama believes that foot-dragging by the IRS, ATF, State and Justice Departments will cause Americans to grow tired of the investigations into wrongdoing. I think the president may be correct. American voters are poorly informed and that is the kindest way I can put it.  The following is clearly in jest – or is it?

I try to gather data to enlighten the voting public and present it in a coherent fashion in my posts. Then I see street interviews like these conducted for the Jimmy Kimmel Show’s “Lie Witness News” and must wonder, “What in God’s name do I think I can accomplish?”

Enjoy and hope to God these Americans are not representative of the voting public.

(Jared Huffman, in case you’re wondering if I knew.)

Roy Filly

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Congressional Democrat debates the Big Mac. Seriously, this is for real!

All morons hate it when you call them a moron.

J. D. Salinger

I don’t know what you think of Chris Van Hollen or even if you know who he is. He is a well-known Democrat Congressman from Maryland and frequently serves as spokesperson for the Democrat Party. The man has a propensity to stand in front of a television camera and spout off. This guy makes Senator Charles Schumer look camera shy. (It has been said in the past that the most dangerous place to be in Washington, DC is between Chuck Schumer and a microphone).

Van Hollen is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. The Republican Chair of that Committee, Paul Ryan, Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, has proposed a budget that will take us off the path to fiscal doom. I didn’t expect the Democrats to like it but the response was absurd. Representative Van Hollen, in rebuttal to the Ryan proposal, debated the price of… are you ready… the Big Mac. We are $17 trillion in debt and the ranking Democrat member of the  House Budget Committee is debating the BIG MAC – and with charts to make his points!

[Source: Congress debated the Big Mac today. With charts. Seriously. by Wesley Lowery]

Tuesday afternoon the House Budget Committee debated a bill that would require the Congressional Budget Office to stop assuming annual increases in discretionary spending due to inflation. There are two solid arguments in favor of this strategy to curb government spending. One of these was argued by Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall. He laid out the argument that if the CBO spending estimates include increases for inflation, it would create incentives for the government to spend more each year — even if it doesn’t need to — in order to hit those estimates. My experiences with “government” confirm this. While in the Air Force we were required to spend every penny allotted to us even if we had absolutely no use for the purchases. “Spend it or loose it” was the phrase of the day. This was also true of my tenure at the University of California. We were incentivized to spend the money allotted to us. The only way to control a budget is with a zero-base (see footnote).

But Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen argued against the bill, saying that the CBO must continue to factor-in inflation, otherwise budget estimates will be completely unrealistic. And when Van Hollen came back at Woodall, he came back hard — with hamburger charts, no less.

burger1Now, I still occasionally eat at McDonalds even though my children are grown. Let me assure Representative Van Hollen that the chart he is holding is NOT A BIG MAC! The Big Mac looks like this -

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 4.48.29 PM

If you intend to discuss hamburgers on the floor of the US House of Representatives, at least have the decency to show a picture of the correct hamburger!

burger2

Van Hollen’s second chart shows the cost of goods and services over time sincein 2004 — again, using the Big Mac as his example.

burger3

 

He concludes with the above image. He argues that without including inflation, the CBO budget would, over time, become more and more detached from reality. I guess believing that one can run deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars and, from time to time in the Obama administration trillions of dollars, in perpetuity is NOT DIVORCED FROM REALITY! Below is the graph that should be debated on the floor of the US Congress.

Presidents Avg Deficits v.3.preview

God save us from morons! (By the by, if my progressive readers are looking at the tiny Clinton deficits they were because he had a solid Republican Congress, Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, and the “Dot.Com Bubble” to fuel federal revenues. Clinton was not a fiscal conservative.)

Roy Filly

Footnote:

Zero-based budgeting is an approach to planning and decision-making which reverses the working process of traditional budgeting. In traditional incremental budgeting (Historic Budgeting), departmental managers justify only variances versus past years, based on the assumption that the “baseline” is automatically approved. By contrast, in zero-based budgeting, every line item of the budget must be approved, rather than only changes. That is zero-based budgeting. During the review process, no reference is made to the previous level of expenditure. Zero-based budgeting requires the budget request be re-evaluated thoroughly, starting from the zero-base. This process is independent of whether the total budget or specific line items are increasing or decreasing. Didn’t Candidate Obama promise over and over that he would go through the budget line by line. 

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The facts about “equal pay” revisited.

A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.

Milton Friedman

Dear Readers,

Yesterday President Obama pulled out a well-worn card from the progressive/statist /altruist playbook – women are paid less than men for the “same work.” I do not know a single republican who would favor “unequal pay” for women. By the by, a computation using “average” pay showed that staff women in the White House earned 12% less than male staffers. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, explained the discrepancy using the same arguments I will use below. He also idiotically stated that 12% less was “better than the ‘national average.’” Sorry, but this post is a bit long. However, it will dispel once and for all the myth of “unequal pay.”

What follows is a series of four articles that dispel the Democrat party assertion that “equal pay for women” does not exist in America. I believe that Americans overwhelmingly agree that women should receive equal pay. I am among those that concur. But, as you will see, when apples and apples and oranges and oranges are compared, typically women are paid very similarly to men and, in many instances, women make more money than men.

Lilly Ledbetter, whose fair-pay U.S. Supreme Court case inspired the first bill President Barack Obama signed into law, noted that women make “77 cents for every dollar that men earn.”

The phrase “women make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn” has been bandied about for years. As stated above, I agree with and support equivalency. The calculus of whether an individual has two X chromosomes or one X and one Y chromosome should never enter into the computation of “pay.” However, the notion of “equal” was never intended with regard to “pay.” Indeed, the concept is ludicrous. “Equal pay for equal work” is a computation that would be daunting to a super computer. For the moment let’s forget about “men” altogether and concentrate on “equal pay between women.” Take as an example two women playing in a professional golf tournament. They both walk an equal number of yards. The both swing golf clubs. Both have practiced long hours. Both had to jump through many hoops to get onto the professional tour. But the one that does the lesser amount of work (i.e., swings the golf club the fewest number of times) gets more “pay” – a lot more “pay” – tens of thousands of dollars more “pay.” Everyone thinks this is fair. Why is that, ask you? Because, answer I, the reward – the pay – in dollars is for talent, not “work.”

Perhaps a more telling example is this. Let’s say that you own a medium size business. You have no partners or stockholders. Every cent of profit is yours. You employ 250 men who all make widgets. They all do the same tasks or, alternatively, rotate through the tasks. You pay them each $30,000 per year including benefits. Thus, your annual expense for labor is $7,500,000, the largest expenditure in your annual budget. It so happens that you are a greedy SOB Republican. Are you telling me that it would be possible to cut your labor costs by 23% and all you need do is fire every man and replace each one of them with a woman who would do EXACTLY the same amount and caliber of work with no loss in productivity? That puts $1,725,000 dollars directly into your pocket and your business sails on without a hitch. I assure you, if that were possible, there wouldn’t be a man with a job until women were no longer available to be hired – every woman who wanted to work would be working. That women earn 23% less than men is only true if you can convince everyone that an apple is an orange.

Enjoy the following four articles (I have edited some portions to avoid repetition, although some repetition could not be avoided and still keep an appropriate flow to the article):

[From: The 'Equal Pay Day' Myth, by Carrie Lukas] “The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the fourth quarter of 2011 that the median full-time working woman made 81.6 percent of the wages of the median fulltime working man (the 73% number used by Ledbetter is an older figure – RF).  Since then, big government, feminist organizations and liberal politicians repeat this “wage gap” statistic, implying that discrimination is its cause…

“This, however, is simply not the case.  Rather, the publication and intense focus on this presented wage gap is an exercise in statistical manipulation, espousing a conclusion that is unreal.  Aggregately comparing full-time working men and women without holding other factors constant is disingenuous — an analysis that accounts for hours worked, education and industry type would be more enlightening.

“Incorporating the number of hours worked variable, it can be found that while both men and women in the original analysis were vaguely labeled “fulltime,” this fails to capture hours put in.

“The Department of Labor’s 2011 Time Use Survey shows that fulltime working men spend… more time at work each day on the job. Therefore, it should hardly be a surprise that workers who work more do in fact earn more. Similarly, the sectors that men and women tend to dominate have to be taken into account:

▪   Men dominate fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking — jobs with higher personal risk (both in job security and safety), but with salary premiums to compensate.

▪   Women cluster in service industries, teaching, health care and the social services — jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours and greater flexibility.

▪   While radical feminists argue that women are socially pressured into these low-paying positions, the same argument can be made that men, pressured to be the bread-winner, sacrifice comfortable positions to make a better salary.

“Finally, children create an important variable.  Two new parents tend to respond oppositely to having a child.  The mother tends to seek a position with greater flexibility and time off (sacrificing salary in the process), while the father actually seeks further salary gains.  When these and other factors are taken into account, the wage gap usually disappears and sometimes even reverses.”

[From, The Real war on Women, by Thomas Sowell] “The old — and repeatedly discredited — game of citing women’s incomes as some percentage of men’s incomes is being played once again, as part of the “war on women” theme.

“Since women average fewer hours of work per year, and fewer years of consecutive full-time employment than men, among other differences, comparisons of male and female annual earnings are comparisons of apples and oranges, as various female economists have pointed out. Read Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute or Professor Claudia Goldin of Harvard, for example.

“When you compare women and men in the same occupations with the same skills, education, hours of work, and many other factors that go into determining pay, the differences in incomes shrink to the vanishing point — and, in some cases, the women earn more than comparable men.

”But why let mere facts spoil the emotional rhetoric or the political ploys to drum up hysteria and collect votes?

“The farcical nature of these ploys came out after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared that Congress needed to pass the Fair Pay Act, because women average 23 percent lower incomes than men.

“A reporter from The Daily Caller then pointed out that the women on Nancy Pelosi’s own staff average 27 percent lower incomes than the men on her staff. Does that show that Pelosi herself is guilty of discrimination against women? Or does it show that such simple-minded statistics are grossly misleading?”

[From, The Myth of Unfair Paychecks, by Steve Chapman] “As any debater knows, defining the issue is a major part of the battle… Democrats failed to persuade the Senate to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act. What are we to conclude from that outcome? That paychecks will be unfair, to the detriment of America’s working women.

“That’s the claim of those supporting the legislation. President Barack Obama said it would merely mandate “equal pay for equal work.” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada warned beforehand that failing to pass the bill would send “the message to little girls across the country that their work is less valuable because they happened to be born female.”

“On Rachel Maddow’s blog, the complaint was that women are ‘still only making 77 cents for every dollar men earn in similar jobs,’ but Republicans ‘seem indifferent to the problem.’

“’This is a myth resting on a deception. The Washington Post’s official Fact Checker faulted Obama’s claim, noting that… depending on how the data are viewed, in some cases it barely exists.’

“A difference, in any event, does not prove discrimination…

“‘The gender gap shrinks to between 8 percent and 0 percent when the study incorporates such measures as work experience, career breaks and part-time work,’ Baruch College economist June O’Neill has written…

“A fact sheet from the American Association of University Women (which favors the bill) acknowledges that ‘10 years after graduation (from college), 23 percent of mothers in our sample were out of the workforce and 17 percent worked part time. Among fathers, only 1 percent were out of the workforce, and only 2 percent worked part time.’ It’s safe to assume that men who make similar work decisions experience similar consequences.

“You could argue that oppressive social conventions saddle mothers with the main responsibility for (the) task (of child rearing). But given the drastic changes in sex roles and expectations over the past half-century, why should we assume that this one is being forced on women? If they tend to place greater importance on child-rearing than men, they will be more inclined to interrupt their careers, even at a sacrifice in long-term earnings.

“Pay differences stemming from factors within the control of females are a ‘problem’ only if you define them as one. By that logic, we need a Higher Education Fairness Act because men earn only 43 percent of all bachelor’s degrees and 40 percent of master’s degrees.

“If universities are taking steps to discourage guys from enrolling, it’s a problem that may be amenable to government action. But if the imbalance is the result of males skipping college in favor of other options, there is no social injustice to undo.

“What the alleged gender pay gap reflects is the interaction of supply and demand in a competitive labor market. Even in a slow economy, companies that mistreat women can expect to lose them to rival employers.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act would upend these processes, with the government and courts assuming responsibility for what each worker should be paid, according to Harry Reid’s standards of justice and fairness. Every salary decision would be fraught with the dread prospect of litigation — promoting rigid pay scales simply to minimize the liability risk.

“The result would be a less nimble and efficient economy, which over time dampens productivity improvements and stifles wage growth. The effect on paychecks? Not fair, but foul.”

[From, Equality or Inequality, by Walter Williams] “Kay S. Hymowitz’s article ‘Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever,’ in City Journal (Summer 2011), shows that female doctors earn only 64 percent of the income that male doctors earn. What should be done about that? It turns out that only 16 percent of surgeons are women but 50 percent of pediatricians are women. Even though surgeons have many more years of education and training than do pediatricians, should Congress equalize their salaries or make pediatricians become surgeons?

“Wage inequality is everywhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian men and women earn more than white men and women. Female cafeteria attendants earn more than their male counterparts. Females who are younger than 30 and have never been married earn salaries 8 percent higher than males of the same description…

“There are other inequalities that ought to be addressed. With all of the excitement about New York Knick Jeremy Lin’s rising stardom, nobody questions league domination by blacks, who are a mere 13 percent of our population but constitute 80 percent of NBA players and are the highest-paid ones. It’s not much better in the NFL, with blacks being 65 percent of its players. Colleges have made diversity their primary calling, but watch any basketball game and you’d be hard-put to find white players in roles other than bench warming. Worse than that, Japanese, Chinese and American Indian players aren’t even recruited for bench warming.

“There’s inequality in most jobs. According to 2010 BLS data, the following jobs contain 1 percent female workers or less: boilermaking, brickmasonry, stonemasonry, septic tank servicing, sewer pipe cleaning and working with reinforcing iron and rebar. Maybe the reason female workers aren’t in these occupations is that too many are in other occupations. Females are 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers, 80 percent of social workers, 82 percent of librarians and 92 percent of dietitians and nutritionists and registered nurses.

“Anyone with one ounce of brains can see the problem and solution. Congress has permitted — and even fostered — a misallocation of people by race, sex and ethnicity. Courts have consistently concluded that “gross” disparities are probative of a pattern and practice of discrimination. So what to do? One remedy that Congress might consider is to require females, who are overrepresented in fields such as preschool and kindergarten teaching, to become boilermakers and brickmasons and mandate that male boilermakers and brickmasons become preschool and kindergarten teachers until both of their percentages are equal to their percentages in the population. You say, ‘Williams, that would be totalitarianism!’ But if Americans accept that Congress can make us buy health insurance whether we want to or not, how much more totalitarian would it be for Congress to allocate jobs in the name of social equality and the good of our nation?

Roy Filly

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