Thursday, October 6, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Investigators from the General Accounting Office (GAO) testified at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Medicare had been subsidizing drug abuse by recipients of the government program. According to the GAO testimony approximately 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries received drugs from 5 or more doctors. Want to guess what those drugs were? Oxycontin and Percocet, and the level of abuse was staggering. Some of the narcotics were for personal use. Most were sold on the street by the recipients. Compounding the problem was the fact that Medicare officials were slow to act and have still not fully addressed the problem. The GAO recommended that Dr. Donald Berwick, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services limit patients who have been identified as abusers to utilizing only one prescriber or pharmacy. The response to this seemingly legitimate and commonsensical recommendation? A decided reluctance to do so because it might jeopardize patient's access to health care. Sounds to me like their "access" to health care is just fine. Unfortunately, this is just another glaring example of the wastefulness and lack of oversight by these same bureaucrats that now want to to take over the entire health care system.

I was wondering if plumbers ever have pipe dreams?

Want to understand why our government can't live within its means and has grown to Brobdingnagian size? Here is an example. The Environmnetal Protection Agency (EPA) is wanting to implement new greenhouse gas regulations by its own self imposed deadline of 2016. This agency is pushing hard- REALLY hard- to get this done. Here is what you should know about this effort. The EPA has no specific authority to regulate greenhouse gases, even though it claims that mandate under the Clean Air Act. That is typical of most government bureaucracies in the overreaching of authority, but here is where it gets just silly. The EPA itself has said that their own greenhouse gas regulations are "absurd" in application and are "impossible to administer" by 2016. Doesn't matter to these bureaucrats. The EPA is asking for 230,000 NEW employees just to implement these "absurd" and "impossible to administer" rules. At a cost of $21 BILLION!. Friends, this is a microcosm of the problem that we have in Washington. Our government has become a morass of unaccountable bureaucracies that impact your life and your wallet with no accountability. Until that changes, it will be difficult to get spending at the federal level under control.

I have been reading abook about anti-gravity. It is impossible to put down.

We all love low prices, and many will vigorously shop for them in the things we buy. There is nothing wrong with that; in fact, lower prices for many of the things we buy has been one of the benefits of globalization of the world's economies. What is a problem for the United States is that we have been slow to adapt to said global economy. Specifically, our schools have not kept  pace with the educational changes that are needed to turn out graduates well equipped to compete in a global environment; our companies and workforce, particularly in the manufacturing sector, were not prepared for the brutal economic competition that foreign competitors unleashed; and our corporate tax rates are some of the highest in the industrialized world, forcing many companies to off shore their operations. All of this has had an impact on our economy and our labor force, and while we have enjoyed lower prices for certain goods, there have been other costs associated with those low prices. To respond to the changing global environment, one would think that we would need to institute structural changes to address some of the factors that I just mentioned. The response from Washington? Proposed trade tariffs against China. Follow closely the debate over the bill in the Senate, which is called the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011. Tariffs will not work and could spark a trade war that will directly impact every consumer in this country as prices for many of the goods we use would rise dramatically.

Did you hear about the man who walked into a psychiatrist's office wearing only cellophane shorts. The Doctor said, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."

And that, my friends, is my view.

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