The Public Option Could Bankrupt the Whole System

I found this great graph on a site called The Glittering Eye that shows exactly what will happen to costs when the public option takes over. Note how the U.S. costs for health care are stable and relatively equal to other countries up to the age of 65 when the current public option, Medicare, kicks in.

demographic-change_health

Gee, once health care in America becomes subsidized at age 65, people flock to their doctors. What does that portend for our health care costs when Obama’s “public option” starts signing people up?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that costs will skyrocket out of control (which says a lot about the level of intelligence of those in the White House and the left side of the aisle in Congress).

I hope those making $250,000 and above won’t mind paying for all of this. (Another great farce and illusion in the whole argument, but I’ll save the topic for another time.)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Wal-Mart Finds Another Way to Crush the Competition

It was big news when Wal-Mart came out this week in favor of an employer mandate for health care, meaning that all employers (unless exempted by size) would have to provide health care for their workers or pay a tax to the government.

Not only did Wal-Mart endorse the employer mandate now under discussion in Congress, but it also did so in concert with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) by issuing a joint statement.

Is this a reprise of the British surrender tune at Yorktown of “The World Turned Upside Down”?

Not really, though the news did garner gushing gagas from the liberal media.

In truth, there was at least one obvious motive in Wal-Mart’s endorsement–crush the competition by making them spend their money on health care.

Behind the scenes, there may also have been some promises or compacts made between the SEIU and Wal-Mart: “Keep the unions out, and we’ll endorse the employer mandate” or some such.

Finally, there’s the obvious clout with official Washington that this brings to the nation’s largest private employer.

Plus, why fight the obvious? With Democrats holding all the cards in D.C., an employer mandate is as sure as death and taxes.

Chalk one up for Wal-Mart.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Union Organizers Reveal Organizing Techniques

In their own words:




NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Top Ten Regulations OSHA Gets Questions About

Here’s a list of the top ten enquiries sent by e-mail to OSHA about its regulations. The agency keeps tabs both by e-mail and phone enquiry, so a notation in parentheses shows the phone rank and regulation link:

  1. Powered industrial trucks (1910.178, #3)
  2. Sanitation (1910.141, #4)
  3. Hazard communication (1910.1200, #2)
  4. Bloodborne pathogens (1910.1030, #1)
  5. Personal protective equipment, general requirements (1910.132, #5)
  6. Medical services and first aid (1910.151, #6)
  7. Ergonomics (no OSHA standard, not on phone list)
  8. Electrical, general requirements (1910.303, not on phone list)
  9. Respiratory protection (1910.134, #8)
  10. Air contaminants (1910.1000, #7).

Stolen shamelessly (but with attribution) from Safety News Alert, which also notes:

“The two questions in the top-10 list of questions received by phone that aren’t on the e-mail list are about indoor air quality (no OSHA standard) and permit-required confined spaces (1910.146).”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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SEIU Employs Tactics It Wants Outlawed for Employers

Betraying its own selfish interests in trying to castrate business owners when it comes to union organizing, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is now employing the very tactics it wants to outlaw for employers.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the SEIU in California is blocking elections at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities as the nascent National Union of Healthcare Workers gathers signatures and calls for elections.

Behind the battle lies the brutal takeover of United Healthcare Workers West (UHW West) earlier this year when SEIU President Andy Stern installed some henchmen at UHW and then accused the native leadership of embezzelment. The ousted UHW quickly morphed into the National Union of Healthcare Workers and is now battling SEIU for representation of healthcare workers in the Golden State.

Stern is fighting back like any good employer by trying to block elections while accusing the rival union of illegal tactics.

So far, two elections have been held, and each union has won one.

Since unions are unions no matter if one or more of them is an aggrieved party, it matters little who wins, but it would be nice to see Stern get his much-deserved comeuppance.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Painting ‘The Doctor’ a Far Cry from Today’s Reality

Sir Luke Fildes lost his eldest son Phillip on Christmas Eve 1877 while a doctor spent a compassionate vigil at the child’s side. In commemoration, Sir Fildes painted “The Doctor” (above) in 1891 to depict “the physician in our time.”

This same painting was used by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1949 to stop President Harry Truman in his attempt to nationalize health care. The message was “Keep Politics Out of This Picture.”

The AMA can’t use this picture or tactic this time around. Things have changed too much.

Some of us who’ve lived long enough can actually recall how doctors once did make house calls and could even be reached on weekends and evenings for emergencies. (Today, you get a voice recording commanding you to “Dial 911.”)

To say the least, we’ve come a long way in our medical care, and in one sense Obama is correct–the system is broken if you’re looking for compassion and home visitations.

But it’s not really broken, just adapted to a new reality. We’re now a nation of 300 million people with nowhere nearly enough doctors to even treat all of us, let alone make house calls (though some still do and swear by it).

Medical care is now like visiting an auto mechanic. “Doc, it hurts here.” “Let me take a look.” A few small probes and examinations later, and the doctor is ready. “Fortunately, nothing is broken. I’ll prescribe you some painkillers. You should be fine in a few days.”

Okay, so I’ve simplified things here a bit (I left out the two sets of x-rays and follow-up MRIs), but the general picture of “sick care” in America is just that. It’s like taking your car into the shop, except it’s your body–and your life.

Paucity of time and doctors can account for our new reality, but the biggest contributing factor to what Obama calls our “broken” health care system is Medicare and Medicaid.

Since most doctors won’t accept the payment structure of Medicaid, leaving that to emergency rooms, your family doctor is modelling his or her practice on the Medicare payment structure–the more procedures he or she can perform, the more the office can bill for your visit. (“I also notice your car’s belts are getting worn. We’d better replace those for $125 before you get stuck on the freeway.” Get the analogy?)

So, the next time you hear politicians’ bemoaning our “broken” health care system, remember it’s only broken because Medicare made it into an assembly-line industry, with each nut, bolt, worker, and procedure along the line being billed for and paid separately.

This is the typical pattern with government: First break it, then blame it on others and come rushing to the rescue to garner votes for the next election, reality be damned.

Politicians just created the housing and credit crises by pushing banks to create “affordable housing.” Now they’re blaming the bankers and everyone one else in the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac food chain and claiming to have the solution with “more regulation.”

If they really wanted to “fix” health care, all they have to do is fully fund Medicare and come up with a payment structure that rewards healthful results rather than procedures. That’ll stop the cost-shifting to private insurers and build some efficiencies into the system.

Instead, they’ll give us more regulation (read “rationing”) and expand Medicare, the very cause of the crisis in the first place.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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2009 Federal Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect July 24

On July 24, 2009 the federal minimum wage increases from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour. This is the third and final annual increase under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.


Many employers consider this increase bad timing, considering the current economic conditions. However, when the Fair Minimum Wage Act was passed in 2006, during an unprecedented bubble in the stock market and real estate market


For ten years, while the federal minimum wage sat at $5.15 an hour, members of Congress voted themselves raises that hiked their salaries by an average of $31,600 each.


That changed with the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. According to the new Act, the minimum wages of American workers were to be increased by 70 cents an hour every year for three years, for a total increase of $2.10 per hour.


Each hike comes on July 24, and in 2007 on that date the hourly rate went from $5.15 an hour to $5.85. The next was from $5.85 to $6.55 an hour.


The third and final increase comes July 24, 2009, when the minimum wage rises from $6.55 to $7.25. Over the three years, the total increase per worker is $84 per week or $4,368 yearly.


The federal minimum wage law is the FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act. It applies only to those employers who have two or workers and who earn revenues of more than a half-million dollars a year. It also regulates the pay of employees in businesses that engage in interstate commerce. A business engages in interstate commerce when it mails to potential out-of-state customers, makes goods sold out of state, or buys its supplies from vendors who are outside their state.


Across the nation, more than half of all states nationwide have passed laws that establish a higher minimum wage than the federal rate. Employees in those states are legally entitled to the higher rate.

Paying less than the minimum wage, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reminds employers, is against the law. It violates the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, also known as the FLSA. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces the act, which also says that all workers must receive their wages by their regular paydays.


At $5.15 an hour, supporters of the increased federal minimum noted, a worker had less purchasing power than he or she would have had in 1968, when the minimum was $1.60 an hour. To be equal to purchasing power, they pointed out, the minimum wage would actually have to be $9.12 an hour in 2006. Although the new 2009 minimum wage is higher, it has not yet reached that level.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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This Just In: Twitter Dangerous to Your Health

We can be grateful to Twitter for bringing us the truth out of Iran in the ongoing civil unrest, but at least one unspecified firm has seen fit to warn against using Twitter–if the fire alarm goes off:


Don't Tweet while fire is nipping at you

Don't Tweet while fire is nipping at you.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Basic $12K-a-Month Employee Wins $4.1 Billion Termination Judgment

Some lucky dude by the name of Paul Thomas Chester was fired by iFreedom Communications. Chester had been paid $12,000 a month plus a 5-percent commission on gross sales and also had a bunch of stock guaranteed to him.

When iFreedom fired him, Chester filed suit, which went first to an arbitrator and then to a superior court that affirmed the arbitrator’s judgment.

Result? Chester walked away with $4.1 billion.

Now, I’ll give you one guess about which state this occurred in. Answer here.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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‘How the Mighty Fall’ Describes GM’s Fate Precisely

Back in January (I can’t believe this year is already almost half over!) I read and reported on a book entitled Good to Great, which offered case studies on firms that rose to the top in their field, including Circuit City and Fannie Mae. Of course, we all know what happened to those two entities. Circuit City liquidated itself, and Fannie Mae likely would’ve been forced into bankruptcy as well had it not been for a government bailout (ongoing, by the way).

At the time I read the book, I e-mailed the author to see if he had an explanation for why those two entities went bust. I heard nothing for months, so I figured author Jim Collins was busy with more important pursuits than answering my half-scornful e-mail. Then a couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Collins, who used a nutritional metaphor to explain what happened to Circuit City and Fannie Mae. He said a person could be in perfect health while watching his diet, but if he started making poorer food choices, his health could go south. In other words, those two firms changed what they were doing and lost their way.

Collins also offered to send me a gratis copy of his new book entitled, in a most timely way, How the Mighty Fall, in which he discusses Circuit City’s fall in more detail. Overall, he describes how companies “fall” by using a five-step process: First comes hubris and arrogance (“we can do no wrong”), which is followed by loss of discipline and lust for more (wealth, power); then denial of risk or peril; then grasping for salvation; and finally, capitulation to irrelevance or outright demise.

The book is a quick read, and I highly recommend it. (The author doesn’t extend the five-step death trot to individuals, but I certainly see how it applies to our daily lives and choices as well.)

What really struck me, what with the ongoing General Motors reorganization into government/union hands and the Obamaniacal thrust to put health care under government control, was a passage on page 56.

Collins first describes what he calls Packard’s Law (named after David Packard, one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard), which is that companies can grow only as fast as they are able to find and retain good employees.

Then, this section describes why both the GM reorganization and the taking over of health care are doomed to fail:

But a Stage 2 company [the second step, loss of discipline and lust for more] can fall into a vicious spiral. You break Packard’s Law and begin to fill seats with the wrong people; to compensate for the wrong people’s inadequacies, you institute bureaucratic procedures; this, in turn, drives away the right people (because they chafe under the bureaucracy or cannot tolerate working with less competent people or both); this then invites more bureaucracy to compensate for having more of the wrong people, which then drives away more of the right people and a culture of bureaucratic mediocrity gradually replaces a culture of disciplined excellence. When bureaucratic rules erode an ethic of freedom and responsibility within a framework of core values and demanding standards, you’ve become infected with the disease of mediocrity.

Actually, poor management in the face of union-imposed mediocrity and bureaucracy long ago doomed GM, but Team Obama has just permanently glued the company to that mediocrity. GM will be smaller but just as mediocre under government-cum-union tutelage. As for health care, well, fill in the blanks–it will become bureaucratic and mediocre in no time flat. Good doctors will decide to retire early or go into business for themselves. Lines will form; what’s left will be rationed; and everywhere there will be mediocrity–and bureaucratic rules to die by, which is what many people will literally do in the face of unavailable services.

Is this really change you can believe in?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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