Monday, May 30, 2011

The GOP's Medicare Plan Is A Real Winner . . .

     . . . or is it? On Monday August 29, 2009, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America. In introducing the Republican National Committee's “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights” (SHCBoR), Mr. Steele stated, "We should protect the seniors' ability to access health care.”
     The first item promised by the SHCBoR was, “. . . [to] protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of health care reform.” Mr. Steele claimed that the health care plan being proposed by the Democrats would cut Medicare funding by $500B. Actually the proposed savings, none of which came from cutting benefits to seniors, was $219B.
     Jump forward to April 5, 2011. The new House Republican majority introduced a budget called The Path to Prosperity. If Congress follows “the path,” current recipients and future Medicare beneficiaries age 55 and older will see no change in benefits.
     But starting in 2022, Medicare as we know it will be gone! New retirees will be enrolled in the same kind of “wonderful” health care program that members of Congress enjoy . . . almost.
     Future retirees will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from the same list of guaranteed coverage options that government employees use. The government will make payments directly to insurers for a portion of the premiums.
     Here's the catch. While the new plan and the government employees' plan may be on a par at the start, the government pays 75% of its employees' premiums regardless of how much they increase. Non-government retirees will get an increase indexed for the inflation rate.
     As we all know, the rate of increase of health care costs is much higher than the overall inflation rate. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that under The Path to Prosperity, by the year 2030 the typical 65-year-old will be paying 65% of his health care insurance premiums, while the government employee will still be paying just 25%.
     So much for SHCBoR! New retirees may be able to get the same insurance plans as government employees, but they will get nowhere near the same health care plan.
     Last Tuesday Kathy Hochul, a Democrat and an almost certain loser scored an upset victory in one of New York state's most conservative districts. Ms. Hochul's campaign focused almost entirely on the Republican Medicare proposals, which were backed by her opponent, Jane L. Corwin.
     Although both parties spent millions in the district, Republicans outspent Democrats by a 2 to 1 margin. Not surprisingly, GOP officials are busily reexamining their approach to Medicare.
******
     Ordinary usage implies that Russell was correct in saying that under certain conditions causality has some usefulness as a shorthand mechanism. It is a quick and easy way for a scientist, or anyone else, to describe an event, but it is necessary to keep in mind that causality is a creation of language ― a way of talking about the world; it is not an objective real world event. In order to avoid misunderstandings, one needs to be sure that the certain conditions underlying his shorthand mechanism are in sync with those of his listeners. This is especially true when an expert addresses laymen, e.g. when a scientist speaks to an audience of non-scientists.
     Causality – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GOP Zipper Malfunctions.

     The history of politicians being caught with their pants down, literally, goes back a long way, but until Bill Clinton's adventures came to light, no one seemed to care very much. And it seems as if the burden of infidelity has fallen more often on stalwarts of the Republican party.
     Oh, I know the Democrats have had their free-swingers, e.g. Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, John Edwards and the fore-mentioned Bill Clinton, but they are not the ones who are out there preaching “family values” as part of their party platform. And although the Democrats have often engaged in “left-wing social engineering,” they are not attempting to highjack must-pass bills, e.g. raising the debt ceiling, by attaching “right-wing social engineering” anti-abortion and anti-gay riders to it. (Left-wing and right-wing social engineering terms were raised by Newt Gingrich on the May 15th telecast of Meet The Press. On May 17th he asked everyone to forget he ever mentioned them.)
     Here are a few of the macho GOP studs whose careers went from “up and coming” to “hanging their heads” because of ZCF (zipper closure failure):

      Rudy Giuliani – In 1968 Giuliani married Regina Peruggi. They were divorced in 1982, after Giuliani started dating Donna Hanover, a Washington TV personality. In addition to a civil divorce, he had to have a Catholic annulment, because he “didn't know” Peruggi was his second cousin; he thought she was his third cousin. Giuliani and Hanover were married in 1984.
     In 1997, Vanity Fair magazine reported there was a romantic link between former City Hall communications director, Cristyne Lategano, and Giuliani. Both denied the report and it was never confirmed. However, Hanover blames Lategano for seriously damaging her 16-year marriage to the mayor. At a news conference confirming their divorce in 2000, Hanover didn’t mention Lategano by name, but said, "For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member."
     In 1999 Rudy began a relationship with Judith Nathan, a twice-divorced sales manager for a pharmaceutical company. Beginning in summer 1999, costs for his New York Police Department security detail during weekend visits to her in Southampton, New York were charged to obscure city agencies. In early 2000, Nathan began getting city-provided chauffeur services from the police department. Giuliani and Nathan were married in 2003. It was the third marriage for both of them.

      Marshall “Mark” Sanford served as Congressman from South Carolina from 1995 until 2001. In 2002 he was elected governor, and was reelected in 2006.
     Between June 18th and 24th, 2009, he disappeared from sight. Even though members of his staff didn't know his whereabouts, they told reporters he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Upon his return, he admitted he had spent the week in Buenos Aires with María Belén Chapur, an Argentine woman. In revealing an affair that had gone on for about a year — and which he said he had disclosed to his wife, Jenny, five months prior — he said: “This was selfishness on my part.” He was later censured over the affair because of misuse of state travel funds.

      Newt Gingrich married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, in 1962, when he was 19 years old and she was 26. In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. According to Battley, in September 1980, Gingrich visited her to discuss the details of their divorce while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer surgery. Newt and Marianne were married six months after the divorce became final.
     During the time Newt was leading the perjury and obstruction of justice charge against Bill Clinton in connection with his adventures with Monica Lewinsky, Newt began an affair with Callista Bisek, a House of Representatives staffer. She is 23 years younger than he is. They were married in 2000, shortly after his second divorce became final.
     The divorce discussion was a case of deja vu; it took place a few months after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I would advise Callista not to get sick.
     Newt has an explanation for his frequent problems with ZCF. In a recent interview on The Christian Broadcasting Network, Newt, who recently converted to Catholicism, explained, "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."
     I would think that the harder one worked, the less time one has for tom-catting around.

      Arnold Schwarzenegger's problems began at least 13 years ago, at least as far as we know, because he has a suddenly discovered son, Joseph, of that age. His mother is 50-year-old Mildred Baena, a 20-year member of the Schwarzenegger's household staff until she resigned this past January. Joseph and Arnold's youngest legitimate son, Christopher, were born within five days of each other.
     In 2003, as Schwarzenegger was running for governor in a hastily-called election following the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, the Los Angeles Times published a story in which six women said he'd groped them sexually without their consent. The story appeared five days before the election; by the time the polls opened, 16 women had come forward with the same claim. Shortly after the story broke, Arnold admitted he had “behaved badly.” His wife, Maria Shriver, stood by him.
     Rumors are flying that the Governator has fathered two more children out of wedlock, and at least one woman has come forth claiming that Arnold could be the father of her child. She is asking for a DNA test.
******
     According to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, information cannot travel faster than the speed of light (approximately 186,000 miles per second). But there are things which can travel faster than that, at least theoretically. For example, suppose one could build a circular wall, similar to a wall around a castle, with a radius of approximately 29,600 miles. Such a wall would be 186,000 miles in circumference. At the center of the circular wall there is a laser which projects a spot on the wall. If the laser revolves at the rate of one revolution per second, the spot will move along the wall at 186,000 miles per second. If the wall is moved say, 500 miles further away from the laser, the spot will move about 189,125 miles per second, which would violate the theory.
     Causality – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bizarre , Wacky and Unique Holidays

     I came across an item on Today which stated that Saturday, May 14th was World Naked Gardening Day. Thinking it was some kind of a gag, I did a little research, and it not only was not a gag – I discovered a couple of other nude holidays: June 11th is Naked Bike Riding Day and June 21st is Nude Hiking Day. Who knew?
     Although I know some gardeners, I am pretty sure that none of them celebrated WNGD. I can't blame them because the weather was rather cold and damp, although that probably had nothing to do with their non-celebration of this great event.
     I also know some bikers and hikers, and while the weather will probably be more agreeable in June, I doubt that anyone I know will be celebrating these little-known holidays. But I'll keep my eyes open, just in case.
     During my research, I discovered that there are many unusual holidays; in fact, every day of the year has two or three. I have compiled a list of some that I thought were interesting for no particular reason - one for each month:
     January 16th – National Nothing Day. The idea is that we do nothing on, for or about this day. To promote it is to violate the spirit of this day. It's a day to non-celebrate...nothing.
     February 27th – How appropriate, my birthday is on National No Brainer Day. This is the day to eschew anything that requires thinking, study, research or analysis. To think that I've been celebrating this day all year long, and didn't even know it!
     March 21st – Fragrance Day. Guys, buy your sweetie something that smells good today. In the old days when people bathed Spring and Fall whether they needed it or not, perfumes and other fragrances were the only things that kept the world livable. These days fragrances make the world delightful. If you do buy her a fragrance, don't get yourself into a situation like the following:
The silly fragrance that Willie sent,
Was very displeasing to Millicent.
Her thanks was so cold
They argued, I'm told,
Because of the silly scent Willie sent Millicent.
     April – The Monday after Easter – Dyngus Day. This is a day of fun inherited from Poland. Using squirt guns, buckets or other containers of water, the guys attempt to drench the gals. More romantic guys use cologne instead of water. On Tuesday the girls get back by throwing dishes or crockery at the guys. A strange way to meet potential mates, but I understand it works very well in Polish-American communities. Perhaps this is the forerunner of speed dating.
     May 8th – No Socks Day. It's self-evident how one celebrates this day. If you are such a celebrant, you may notice that your friends tend to stay upwind. If you don't celebrate it, you will probably figure out very quickly who does. This holiday is copyrighted by Wellcat.com.
     May 9th – Although the two are not technically related, I couldn't mention No Socks Day without tying it in to Lost Sock Memorial Day. If you have loads of unmatched socks, you need to be celebrating this day. And give some thought to disposing of the unmatched ones; the matches never show up.
     June 3rd – Repeat Day is a good day to do something you enjoy over and over. Repeat Day is a good day to do something you enjoy over and over. Enough said? Enough said?
     July 27th – Take Your Pants For A Walk Day is easy to celebrate, just take a walk – unless you are wearing a skirt, your pants will go with you. You can doubly celebrate by carrying a second pair.
     August 13th – Left Handers Day is for 10% of the world's population, including me: the lefties. As every lefty knows, it's a right-handed world. If you doubt it, I suggest you try the following: (1) Pick up a scissors and use it in your left hand, or (2) Use your computer mouse with your left hand. We lefties deserve a day of our own. Remember: Everyone is born left-handed; you get switched over when you commit your first sin. Question: In the town of Left Hand, West Virginia, is everyone a Left Hander?
     September 1st – Emma M. Nutt Day commemorates the date on which a woman first became a telephone operator. Today electronic switching has practically eliminated the job. Emma once said she was "very thankful that my first name was not Imma." I'll bet she was.
     October 7th or 14th – There is some confusion over which day Bald and Free Day is to be celebrated, but it is definitely either the 7th or the 14th - take your pick. On this holiday I really appreciate the freedom from thinking about such things as, “Will I lose my hair? What can I do about these bad hair days?” and other assorted worries. Although I do need a haircut every five or six weeks, I smile when I see other guys spending time and money on hair sprays, combs and other such “necessities.” In addition, it is part of the tradition that on this day all bald jokes are outlawed. Remember, God made only a few perfect heads – the rest He covered with hair.
     November 9th – Chaos Never Dies Day recognizes the disorder in both the cosmos and the daily life. Scientists use the word “entropy” to describe the rampant disorder in the cosmos. The rest of us use the term “hectic” to describe the disorder in daily life; such things as frenzied deadlines, unruly teenagers, traffic snarls, unexpected emergencies, etc. Today is the day to draw a bubble bath, light a candle, read a book and get away from it all.
     December 18th – National Suckling Pig Day. A suckling pig is a piglet which has not been weaned from its mother. Today is the day to roast one, although you may have to look up the recipe. If you can't find it, go out and order one at a restaurant. It's the day to take a little time off from the holiday hubbub.
     That does it – 13 odd holidays. If you want to see a thousand or so more of these, Bizarre , Wacky and Unique Holidays is the place to look. Or create one of your own.

******
     One problem with the [Russell] theory was that there are some events that look like they are a “persistence of something,” but are not, and Russell’s theory could not distinguish between real causal processes and so-called pseudo processes. For example, a moving spot of light at time t on a wall seems to be related to the spot at t-1 and also at t+1, but it’s not. Each manifestation of the spot is related to the interaction of the light source and the wall, not the preceding spot. Likewise, a shadow appears to be related causally to itself in the interval between t-1 and t+1, but again it is related only to the interaction of the light source, the intervening body and the ground.
     Causality – The Spirit Runs Through It.

“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Political Science 101: Serve Those Who Finance Your Campaign...

     ...and ignore those who elected you to office.
     The Marcellus Shale was deposited almost 400M years ago in an area running from Ohio through West Virginia, western Maryland, western and northern Pennsylvania, and into southern New York state. Far beneath the surface of the sea which covered the area, organic material trapped in the shale formed into pools of oil. Some liquid petroleum can still be found in the western area; further east the oil was converted to natural gas during still deeper burial some 240M years ago.
     Because of the continuously increasing cost of fuel, recovery of natural gas from shale has become economically feasible. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that the Marcellus contains 252 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, and that volume could increase as more advanced technology becomes available. The Marcellus is the second largest source of natural gas in the world; some estimates place the total value of recoverable gas at one trillion dollars.
     With the exception of Pennsylvania, all Marcellus states have passed various restrictions on drilling until environmental problems are investigated. For example, Maryland and New York have gone so far as to call a halt to drilling pending assessment of the environmental consequences.
     And consequences there are: as a result of the chemicals which are pumped into the shale in order to release the gas, wastewater treatment plants are encountering chemicals they are not equipped to handle. At the request of the Environmental Protection Agency, the PA Department of Environmental Protection has asked drillers to voluntarily stop taking wastewater to Pennsylvania treatment plants by May 19. This is tantamount to asking the Philadelphia Eagles to please stop playing so rough.
     A March, 2011 survey conducted by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, done in conjunction with several Pennsylvania newspapers and TV stations, shows a majority of adult Pennsylvania residents favor an extraction tax on the state's rapidly growing natural-gas industry - a step vehemently opposed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Every other state in the U. S. in which drillers operate has imposed such a tax.
     Gov. Corbett has stated that if we impose such a tax, the drillers will leave the state. The question is: where will they go? They will leave an area with billions of dollars in potential revenue and go – where? especially in a state where the DEP spends as little as 35 minutes reviewing requests for permits before dragging out the rubber stamp. According to the AP, “Of the 7,019 applications that DEP has processed since 2005, only 31 have been rejected — less than one-half of one percent.“
     Which brings me to the heart of the matter: In view of a projected state budget deficit of 4B dollars, why does Gov. Corbett refuse to even consider what a majority of adults in Pennsylvania would like to see – an extraction tax on natural gas?
     Let's follow the money. Of all the industries donating funds to Corbett and Cawley's (lieutenant governor) election campaigns, the oil and gas interests led the way with $1,094,395, over $283,000 ahead of the second place insurance industry.
     Here are the top five individual contributors from the natural-gas industry:

Name OccupationEmployerContrib.
K. PegulaHousewife, Exec. (1) East Resources, Inc. 180,000
T. Pegula Executive, Ret'd. East Resources, Inc. 100,000
C. Toretti Owner (2) S.W. Jack Drilling 92,513
T. Rees-Jones Pres., CEO (3) Chief Oil & Gas 50,000
R. Long BusinessmanEast Resources, Inc. 28,000

The moral of the story is: A few hundred thousand dollars will get you the best government money can buy.
(1) East Resources has leaseholds in excess of 650,000 acres in key southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania areas of the Marcellus. East has drilling rights in roughly 1M acres of the entire Marcellus. The company was purchased by Royal Dutch Shell in 2010.
(2) S. W. Jack Drilling Provides drilling services in Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
(3) Chief oil and gas is engaged in the exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas reserves in several fields in the Appalachian Basin, northern Texas, and Central Utah. As of November, 2009, Chief's holdings were reported to be in excess of 650,000 acres in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
******
     In 1948 Bertrand Russell, who had previously rejected the notion of causality, suggested that under certain conditions the idea had some usefulness as a shorthand mechanism, primarily in scientific inductive reasoning. Briefly, his theory suggested that “a persistence of something, a person, a table, a photon, or what not” may be considered as a string of events having a causal connection with each other. Under Russell’s definition, a chair at time t is connected to a chair at time t-1 and also at t+1. As he put it, “Given a certain event at a certain time, then at any slightly earlier or slightly later time there is, at some neighbouring place, a closely similar event.” The chair at time t is caused by the earlier chair (at t-1), and is the cause of the later chair (at t+1).
     Causality – The Spirit Runs Through It.


“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Is The Definition Of Recession?

     The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which includes the price of gasoline and food, shows an increase of 2.7% over March, 2010. Gasoline at the pump rose 5.6% in March alone, and is now 27.5% higher than it was a year ago. Food is 2.9% higher than it was at March 31st, 2010.
     Economists generally consider the core-CPI, which excludes energy and food prices, to be a better indicator of long-term inflation. At March 31st this index was just 1.2% higher than it was a year earlier – hardly a harbinger of runaway inflation. Unfortunately, most of us have to live with short-term inflation; regardless of what the price at the pump will be in six months, we have to deal with it today.
     According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS), in spite of a 0.6 increase in average weekly hours worked, real average weekly earnings for all employees decreased 0.4% between March 2010 and March 2011. People are working longer and getting paid less! Even though the inflation low, employees are less able to cope with it in 2011 than they were in 2010. For people who depend on their paycheck for a living, the recession is getting worse.
     As they say on infomercials: “But wait – there's more.” A few days ago the news media were all trumpeting the USBLS announcement that 244,000 new jobs were created in April, thus proving that recovery is under way. However, the small print in the announcement stated that the unemployment rate increased from 8.8% to 9.0%. The number of new jobs created is not keeping pace with the number of people entering the job market! This is coming out of a recession?
     But the stock market is going great – the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone up 20.14% in the last year. Multinational corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars. How can this be?
     Here is an example: In 2005, 51% of General Electric's employees were in the U.S. By 2009 only 47% were - the actual number decreased by 27,000.
     In 2009, GE reported a profit of $14.2 billion; $5.1 billion was from within the U.S. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%. How much U.S. tax did GE pay? 35% of $14.2B or 35% of $5.1B? Guess again. They claimed a U.S. tax CREDIT of $3.2 billion. It appears the company's slogan “Imagination at Work” applies to its huge (over 900 attorneys and accountants) Tax Department as well as to its products.
     Don't get me wrong – GE is not an isolated example. On February 1st the New York times reported that, “Over the last five years, ..., Boeing paid a total tax rate of just 4.5 percent, according to Capital IQ. Southwest Airlines paid 6.3 percent. And the list goes on: Yahoo paid 7.0 percent [and] Prudential Financial, 7.6 percent.”
     A recent headline proclaimed that “CEO pay exceeds pre-recession level.” According to the AP, “The typical pay package for the head of a company in the Standard and Poor's 500 was $9 million in 2010.” Those huge salaries were paid out of the pockets of American taxpayers.
     Like beauty, recession is in the eye of the beholder. If one is beholding down from the top, recession does not exist. It has a far different definition if one is looking up from the bottom.
******
     The action of the Spirit holds each atomic nucleus together and tethers its orbiting electrons to it; the Spirit also holds planets, comets and other stellar bodies in their orbits. An interaction of the Spirit between an occupied volume and an empty volume of space/time is called a force, as is an interaction between two occupied volumes of space/time, e.g. gravity.
     Matter Matters – The Spirit Runs Through It.

“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doomsday Predictions

     When I read in yesterday's newspaper that the Rapture was coming on May 21st at 6 pm, I thought about calling my attorney to make sure that my estate, such as it is, would go to persons among the chosen few. Then I realized that I had no way of telling who would be chosen and who would not.
     Further reflection convinced me that it doesn't matter – those chosen would not need what little pittance I had planned for them, while those remaining behind would be too busy suffering the events of the Tribulation.
     Perhaps a little digression would be good at this point. According to Wikipedia, the Rapture is a reference to 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17, in which Paul cites "the word of the Lord" about the return of Jesus to gather his saints.
...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be raptured (or "caught up") together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.
     The Tribulation refers to Matthew 24:21 and other passages of the New Testament. Christian doctrine varies on the timing of the Tribulation, but generally it is described as:
...a period of worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain and suffering, which will wipe out 75% of all life on the earth before part two of the Second Coming takes place.
     Doomsday predictions have been ongoing since the beginning of Christendom, and probably long before. Here are a few recent ones:

  • 1982 - Pat Robertson said "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world."
  • 1997 – The 39 members of a San Diego UFO cult (Heaven's Gate) determined that the comet Hale-Bopp was being followed by an alien spacecraft which would take them all to Heaven. In preparation for liftoff, they committed suicide. For them, the world did end between March 24th and 26th, 1997. Whether they were picked up by the UFO has been neither proved nor disproved, although the probability is considered to be very low.
  • Circa 1600 – Famed psychic Nostradamus wrote, "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." This was taken to be the psychic's vision of Armageddon.
  • Y2K – Who can forget the many predictions that the failure of computers world-wide would result in catastrophe at the turn of the century? Perhaps because of the predictions, computers were reprogrammed to make the century ending changeover with only minor glitches.
  • 1992 – Harold Camping published the book 1994?, in which he made the statement, "No book ever written is as audacious or bold as one that claims to predict the timing of the end of the world, and that is precisely what this book presumes to do." He dated this catastrophe September 6th, 1994. Obviously, it didn't happen.
     Go to The Doomsday Listl for many more such “audacious” predictions.
     Returning to the newspaper article I mentioned above, the Rapture prediction was made by non other than Harold Camping, back again for another try. He based his corrected prediction on certain Jewish feast days, the lunar month, the Gregorian Calender, some unclear Biblical information, and what appears to be numerology. (He admits he may have made some calculation errors on his 1992 prediction.)
     His arithmetic may have improved, but because of his track record, I don't think I will call my attorney just yet.
******
      The atomic nuclei which followed were somewhat less stable. The hierarchy continued with the capture of electrons, the accumulation into stars, the formation of the heavier elements, planets, etc. Each tier in the hierarchy, although still relatively stable, was somewhat less so than its predecessors.
     Matter Matters – The Spirit Runs Through It.

“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Republican Medicare Plan

     One of the ways Republicans are trying to sell their Medicare proposal is by claiming that beneficiaries would “be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy.” Let's examine that claim.
     Suppose that on the date the “Roadmap for America's Future” becomes effective, a government employee and a non-government employee are enrolled in a family health care plan for which the total annual premium is $7,600. The government pays $5,700 (75%) of its employee's plan and allows a $5,700 tax credit for the non-government employee.
     Assume that the next year the premium increases by $50 per month for an annual premium of $8,200. For the government employee his employer will pay $6,150 (75%) of the premium – he will pay the usual 25%.
     The non-government employee will also see an increase in his tax credit, but it will be based on the inflation rate. Suppose the rate is 3%. The tax credit will be, at most, $5,871, just short of 72% of the premium; he will pay 28%.
     The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by the year 2030 the typical 65-year-old will be paying 65% of his health care insurance premiums – assuming no change in the law, the government employee will still be paying just 25%.
     What about the claim that beneficiaries would “be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy”? It's a lie! They might be in the same health care insurance plan, but they will be in a far different health care program.
******
     In the previous chapter I discussed how the physical universe progresses by means of the Spirit’s activities on the space, atoms and molecules that comprise it. But our language is composed of a different kind of construct, i.e. words, which carve out volumes of space/time from the surrounding flow of events. This chapter will examine how we use language to talk about this process.
     An In-Depth Look At The Spirit's Activity – The Spirit Runs Through It.

      “The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Should We Rethink Our Strategy?

     Many TV crime dramas have a plot similar to the following: A crime boss goes into hiding. The police form a special undercover unit to find him. After months of questioning suspects, following up leads, etc., they locate his hideaway. A swat team raids his hideout, and he is killed in the ensuing gun battle.
     Change “crime boss” to “Osama bin Laden,” the “undercover unit” to “CIA and SIS (Pakastani secret service),” and the “swat team” to “79 heroic Navy Seals;” now you have the story the U.S. has been waiting for since September 11, 2001.
     The point is that bin Laden was found, not by the coalition forces in Afghanistan, but by good police-style work. He wasn't in Afghanistan. Although the armed forces were the best-trained in history, they were looking in the wrong place!
     The old story goes that one night Johnny found his friend, Billy, crawling around on his hands and knees under a street light. Billy explained that he was looking for a quarter he had dropped. Johnny asked, “Approximately where were you when you dropped the quarter?”
     Billy pointed into the darkness. “About 50 feet over there.”
     “Well, why aren't you looking for your quarter over there?”
     Billy replied, “Because, there is more light here.” The coalition had the same chance of success as Johnny had.
     General Petraeus has estimated that the number of al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan numbers about 100. The coalition forces are estimated to number about 140,000. At approximately $1M per year per fighter, that figures out to $140B per year. (Incidentally, this is money that is not included in the “cut spending” resolve of the current Congress.)
     Could we be using the wrong strategy for fighting the war on terror? Could we bring most of our fighters home, save billions of dollars, and get better results by turning the war over to personnel who are highly trained in finding people in hiding?
     ******
     The culmination was the appearance of the least stable tier of all: life itself! Living organisms did not come into the universe; they came out of it! We are all created from stardust!
     Matter Matters – The Spirit Runs Through It

“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.