Seattle’s Light Rail

Seattle’s Light Rail Sets Record for Environmental Harm

 

The system cost $2.3 billion to build.

 

$2.3 billion, financed at 6% interest over 20 years would cost $16 million per month, capital costs alone.

 

15,000 rider per day, 30 days per month= 450,000 rides per month. Capital cost per ride is $35.50. Operating costs per ride…unknown.

 

Some rides are for 2 or 5 miles. That’s a rather high cost per mile.

 

Seattle will get a reputation for computational deficiency, financial retardation.

 

Passed in the name of protecting the environment, the results are confounding. $16 million per month could buy and protect 320,000 hectares of Mexico’s rain forest, EVERY MONTH. Environmentalists are lousy at finance.

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Worry About Cohesion

Worry About Cohesion

 

Scare mongers have for a long time warned about bogey men such as One World Government. I have generally not liked such talk. It seems a little too close to late night radio callers who report UFOs. Conspiracy theories need to be taken in small doses. I also imbibe selectively writings about worldwide financial cabals and manipulation. There is probably enough truth to the charges to keep them from complete oblivion, but not enough to build a respectable structure upon.

 

However, for a Utopian, nothing short of central regulation will suffice to accomplish what he touts as a benevolent purpose. No individual can escape. All must be equally taxed and “nudged” by regulation. Without sufficient controls, some kooky freedom lover will seek a less restrictive legislative environment and unleash a “race to the bottom”. Too high taxes in New York send residents to Florida. Such escapes can only be curtailed if regulation and taxes are universal, global. This requires a government with enforcement powers, police.

 

Watching the news, you can see tendencies in this direction. Watch for the words:

 

  • Unity
  • Coherence
  • Harmonizing goals and programs

 

And these recent quotes from financial websites:

 

  • “Global governance with the G-20 in the middle”
  • “Global management of our climate”
  • “Joint effort between our countries”

 

The environment is the primary bell they ring. But coordinated financial regulation and harmonizing caps on banker pay are two others. If the US and Western Europe stifle pay packages, smart managers will be recruited to Singapore and Mumbai, to escape the cap. The regulatory scheme collapses. Coordinated regulations are proposed. Such coordination is accomplished through the United Nations and treaties such as at Doha, Kyoto and Copenhagen, and agreements arising from G-20 meetings.

 

These are the threats to national sovereignty and personal liberty that bear monitoring.

Misgivings on Health Care Legislation



Misgivings on Health Care Legislation

 

As the Senate passes another hurdle on the way to melding the administration of all American medicine into one galloping cancer, I reflect on my basic misgivings. They are two, redistribution and central planning.

 

Redistribution is not one of the principles employed when the founders ordained and established the nation. In the first 150 years of the republic, people were fed, housed, clothed and healed from the fruits of their own labors. If their incomes failed to suffice, they relied on their families or neighborhood philanthropy. Until the 1900’s there was no historical precedent for government redistribution. Since then, we have become dangerously, passively inured.

 

Senate and House health care bills embody the redistributionist principle, once so foreign to Americans.  To Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Baucus, Dodd and Waxman, all Americans are entitled to insurance. Their bills establish a new entitlement. A second new entitlement, long-term care, is thrown in for good measure. Besides the great entitlements of Social Security and Medicare, both in financial arrears, two new entitlements hatch, like Orcs. As if it wasn’t enough for our cruise ship to hit two icebergs. In football, at least, there is a rule against piling-on. Redistribution is the justification for the health bill.

 

Central planning drags down an economy and concentrates power. The health bill epitomizes central planning, else why is it being discussed in the highest legislative body? Central planning destroys competition between competing jurisdictions, for example between state and national or between states. It engulfs all decisions. It is a leviathan, a whale. No escape is possible. No one can opt out. Supporters of single-payer chant, “everybody in, nobody out.” They consider this a blessing; no one is left out in the cold. Skeptics consider their mantra a threat; none is free of the program’s clutches. An independent cannot move to another town where taxes are less, or another state. No place is free; the alligator follows. To heal the sick is not one of the Senate’s enumerated powers.

 

Central planning aggregates power in the center. This shifts other powers, such as the police power, to the center. Farther from the people, such powers are easier to employ abusively.

 

Utopianism ends badly, a conclusion effortlessly reached by reading history. National-scope planning and redistribution were pillars of the most harmful regimes, regimes which promised Utopia.

 

Hence, the aching in my gut.

Buying Health Takeover Votes

If Obama and Reid can buy Landrieu’s “yes” vote for $100 million, could Jon Tester’s “no” vote be bought for a somewhat tidier sum?

Who wants to lead, gathering the funds?

I wonder how much it would take?
It’s all raw power, at bottom.

 

 

What ObamaCare Covers

What Will ObamaCare Cover?

 

What is medically necessary? Who decides?

 

Decide if your tax dollars should cover:

 

Medical marijuana

Needle exchanges for heroin addicts

Smoking cessation treatments and programs

SSRIs (such as Prozac) for “normal” people

who want to feel “better than normal”

 

Sex-change operations

 

Physician assisted suicide

 

LMNA and IGF-1 to lengthen life

 

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of embryos

Surrogate mother fees

Sperm bank fees

Storage fees for unwanted embryos from IVF attempts

Adoption fees

 

Bariatric surgery (stomach stapling)

Liposuction

Weight loss foods and supplements

Gym memberships and tennis shoes

Face lifts

Mammary enhancement or reduction

Nose jobs

Eye-rounding for people of Asian descent

 

Should people be required to allow their bodies to be harvested for organs?

Should bull riders and parachutists get full coverage at standard prices?

Are people responsible for their obesity or heart disease?

 

Medical necessity will be determined by an agency designated by the government, whose values may be radically different from yours. The definition will change based on political tussles and budgets. You may pay for things you consider patently abhorrent, or for things that you consider to be the responsibility of the patient, self- inflicted.

 

Some people consider naturopathy, acupuncture, vitamin and chelation therapy, and herbal remedies spurious. Do you? The critical question is: does the government? Will the government change it’s mind? (Yes.) Whatever Congress or the President’s regulator decides is what you will pay for, all haggled out in a rancorous, public, manipulated process.

 

—————–

Baucus Bill Covers:

 

This is all I could find in the 223 page summary of the Baucus bill to answer my question if ObamaCare will cover stomach stapling, breast enlargement, sex-change operations, physician assisted suicide, needle exchange, and other treatments that many will find objectionable, not cost effective, or the responsibility of the individual:

 

Federal law does not define a minimum creditable coverage (MCC) benefit package for purposes of individual (individual), small group (employers with 2-50 workers (1-50 in some states) or up to 100 in some states), and other group private health insurance. States have the primary responsibility of regulating the business of insurance and may define what qualifies as minimum creditable coverage. However, Federal law requires that private health insurance include certain benefits and protections. HIPAA and subsequent amendments require, for example, that group health plans and insurers cover minimum hospital stays for maternity care, provide parity in annual and lifetime mental health benefits, and offer reconstructive breast surgery if the plan covers mastectomies.

Chairman’s Mark

Definition of Four Benefit Categories. Four benefit categories would be available: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. No policies could be issued in the individual or small group market (other than grandfathered plans) that did not meet the actuarial standards described below. All health insurance plans in the individual and small group market would be required, at a minimum, to offer coverage in the silver and gold categories.

All plans must provide preventive and primary care, emergency services, hospitalization, physician services, outpatient services, day surgery and related anesthesia, diagnostic imaging and screenings (including x-rays), maternity and newborn care, pediatric services (including dental and vision), medical/surgical care, prescription drugs, radiation and chemotherapy, and mental health and substance abuse services that at least meet minimum standards set by Federal and state laws. In addition, plans could charge no cost-sharing (e.g., deductibles, copayments) 18

for preventive care services, except in cases where value-based insurance design16 is used. Plans could also not include lifetime limits on coverage or annual limits on any benefits. Any insurer that rates on tobacco use must also provide coverage for comprehensive tobacco cessation programs including counseling and pharmacotherapy (prescription and non-prescription). The provisions in this paragraph would all be within the actuarial value of the appropriate benefit level.