Thursday, April 29, 2010

Headlines 4/29/10

Illegal immigrants plan to leave over Ariz. law
... which would be what they wanted.

My take: Their hearts are in the right place, but this law is poorly thought out and probably won't survive the courts.

Obama: "At A Certain Point You've Made Enough Money" (video clip)
... and he gets to decide how much.

Mass. Cape Wind gets thumbs up, thumbs down
Green energy, just NIMBY.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thought for the Day

There are no jobs Americans won't do with 10% unemployment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Medical Billing Rant

It's been crazy busy at work (which affects home), but I can break the silence with, I think, a work complaint that sheds some light on government and the future of health care.

I work in radiation oncology designing the patients' radiation treatments.

Under Medicare rules (and most insurance companies mimic their rules), if a patient gets a CAT scan today, I can't print out the radiation plan today, or we can't get all the money we would normally receive. If the patient starts treatment tomorrow, I can't print the plan tomorrow or we won't get another fee we're normally entitled to. The only way we can get all we're normally paid is to push the patient's treatment off until Monday.

In this case (and many others) Medicare rules punish efficiency and encourage us to let the patient suffer a little longer.

So I printed the plan today, he'll start tomorrow, and we get the shaft. Thank you, federal government.

(And next year, they may decide to slash all of those payments simply because they can.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts on Tax Day

It is a fitting coincidence that I'm wearing largely black today. It's April 15, Tax Day. I'm writing this before I make out my check and further sour my mood.

No one likes to pay taxes, but it's a necessary evil. The government must do some things, and that takes money. The question is how much money and whose.

The debates about "sharing the wealth" and transfer payments and "paying your fair share" all boil down to this:

Some people think there is a certain amount of money beyond which you have no claim to your earnings. And they think they should get to decide what that is.

And the number keeps going down. They get stars in their eyes and wild ideas of all the good they could do if they just had a little more of your money. So brace yourselves; it's about to get worse.

Some tax-related reading for your ... well, enjoyment certainly isn't the right word:
The Preemptive Tax Revolt
Obama's promised tax increase on "the rich" "will raise almost $700 billion [over 10 years], or only enough to cover about half of the budget deficit this year alone."

Europe's VAT Lessons
VAT taxes start low then grow and never lower income tax rates.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Partiers Tax Hypocrites?

I recently highlighted an article that said 47% of Americans don't pay income taxes. At least one person took this fact and labeled the Tea Party folks hypocrites. Why?

By this person's "logic," if 47% of Americans aren't paying income taxes, at least 47% of the Tea Partiers aren't. So they're receiving more benefit from the federal government than they're paying in taxes — for example, they pay $1 in taxes and get $1.50 in benefits. They're benefiting from the government's redistribution of wealth and complaining about it at the same time.

Let's say that's accurate. How do we respond?

1) The US government spends much more than it takes in. Technically everyone gets more "benefit" than they pay in taxes. This will continue right up to the point where the federal government implodes (i.e., no one will lend them any more money).

2) Implosion or not, eventually we're all going to have to help pay that money back. Us, our kids, and their kids.

3) For this to be anything like hypocrisy, you'd need to be applying for some government benefit. Your state getting money for roads or schools isn't up to you. It's a passive benefit. These folks probably aren't actively seeking benefits.

4) Even if they are, our alleged benefiting from this government policy doesn't make it right.

This argument makes as much sense as a teenager watching his parents spend themselves into the poorhouse. Why should he care as long as he's getting new shoes, phones, ipods, and whatever else he wants?

How about because he cares about his family's financial situation? How about because he doesn't want his parents to ruin themselves? How about because he knows if this continues his family will get their house, cars, and boat taken away?

Enlightened self-interest? Nothing wrong with that.

Agree with them or not, the Tea Partiers are not hypocrites; they're concerned citizens.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Headlines 4/8/10

5 Needs Before The Recession Is Really Over
3 of which are highly unlikely under Obama's policies.

Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax
When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul.

Health Care for CPAs
Job security for accountants (& probably lawyers)

Mexican 'Assassin Teams' May Target U.S. Law Enforcement, DHS Warns
Can we enforce our border now?

Obama 'Even Worse' Than Bush On Secret Wiretapping Case
It's nice when liberals meet reality.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We Don't Oppose Immigration

An article explaining that health care reform would exclude illegal immigrants (yeah, right, for about six minutes) included this troublesome line:

"Proponents of reducing immigration believe that allowing illegal immigrants access to health care is an incentive for them to come, and an unfair tax burden on Americans."

What's so troublesome about that?

This author, like so many, says opponents of illegal immigration oppose all immigration.

That's simply not true. Sure, there are people who want to end all immigration, but that is a small number compared to those who are concerned about our porous border and the dangers and costs associated with it.

It's all too common in American politics to cast your opponent's position as the kind of thing all reasonable people should abhor. We can't allow that to happen here.

Opponents of illegal immigration are not xenophobes. We simply think the law should be enforced.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

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