Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyone should listen to @Floridaline

From Twitter
Ryan’s Wrong —We Need ‘Medicare for all' (May 2011)
For anyone that can't carry a thought out more than one or two steps this comment may appear to be totally un-American. However, the concept of the single payer and the use of the Medicare System to administer it should be ballyhooed by everyone. The Medicare System with a few tweaks can ensure health care for everyone while controlling costs, improving outcomes and ensuring a reasonable return on investments. Health care as it is delivered today ensures only the best care to the wealthiest fraction of our population while ignoring the poorest until they are in crisis and the vast middle portion just hoping that calamity doesn't make a call to their home and if it does you are lucky enough that it is covered by the plans offered by employers that shop based on cost not care.

Without a doubt if you found yourself to be numbered amongst the misfortunate that will have to cope with a major health issue; before Health Care Reform (Obama-care) fully kicks in, one that drives your personal finances into bankruptcy you would feel some outrage. What portion of the bill that drives your now uncertain future was due to the record breaking profits large corporations are posting, or cash being passed  from lobbyist to any elected official, or the ubiquitous advertising cost of medical devices & drugs, or the highly inflated salaries and bonuses paid to high ranking corporate officers that you would feel it immoral.

There are plenty of other opportunities for business to earn outrageous margins and for celebrity CEOs to personally gain while denying a living wage to those they employ. It should be as distasteful to the healthy, lucky and well-heeled that maximizing profit margins enter into our national conversation regarding health as it is to those that are most negatively affected by that conversation. I’ve spent more than 30 years in health care finance – in California and Florida – in that time I’ve seen the number of bankruptcy notices increase at the same time financial pressures have grown on hospitals and doctors.

It’s a weird situation we have here – a country that has the best and worst health care the world has to offer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Refiguring Congressional Salaries - Maybe They're Over Paid?

Recently we’ve seen a couple Congressmen publicly complain about how much they are being paid. Aside from the chutzpah displayed when so many of our fellow Americans find themselves unemployed or under-employed I believe their complaints should be viewed from a different paradigm. While I acknowledge that many will say that figures lie and liars figure I will risk the wrath of all those who were so unfortunately elected to office – only after they raised campaign funds and spent like mad dogs asking for your vote. Congress in this country should not be viewed as a way to make your fortune but as a way to serve the people of the country you profess to love – I’m looking your way Sara Palin (yes I know she was never in Congress).
 $    174,000
2011 Base Salary
 $        83.65
FT Hourly Rate - 40 Hrs / Week * 52 Weeks = 2,080 Hours
 $        19.86
24 / 7 Hourly Rate - 24 Hours * 365 Days = 8,760 Hours
 $        21.35
Mean Averge Rate 2010
2010 Days in Session - House
2010 Days in Session - Senate
Average Days in Session - ( 125 + 156 ) / 2
Weekdays in 2010 Number of days Monday - Friday in 2010
Federal Holidays in 2010
Days not in Session - ( Weekdays - Days in Session - Fed Holidays )
Weekend Days - ( 365 - Weekdays in 2010 )
OMG Days Off ! - ( Days not in Session + Weekend Days )
Percentage of Calendar Days Off - ( 203 / 365 )
 $      134.26
FT Adjusted Hourly Rate = $ 279,259 per year
 $        44.75
24 / 7 Adj Hourly Rate = $392,037 per year

The current Congressional base salary is $174,000 which is nothing to shake a stick at considering how much of the people’s work they aren’t getting done. If this were an episode of the Soprano’s we might even call this a “no show job”. Well based on a 40 hour work week this would equate to $83.65 per hour – but of course Congress will tell you that they serve 24 / 7 and the real rate in their mind is closer to $19.86 or 93% of the average mean of all workers in the United States in 2010. This may be true but can anyone recall when the Congress did anything for an extended period of time 24 / 7 – vacations or time off excluded? Additionally, I don’t believe the taxpayer should be left holding the bag for the time Congress takes to be wined and dined by lobbyist or working to fill their campaign coffers. After adjusting for weekends, Federal holidays and days not in session that leaves us with a Congressional workforce away from their duties 55.6% of the time. Quick check your benefit package from your job to see how you measure up to our Congressional yardstick. I would say that these people are under-employed and have time to find a good part-time job to help out with the family budget – perhaps send their significant other out to find a job that pays more than minimum wage.

Just as some people do with teachers’ salaries - I have recalculated your rates based on actual time in the classroom… I mean the House & Senate. Figuring that even the Representatives identified in the links above would agree that they should only be paid for the time they are “producing” something of value their rates would be $134.26 an hour or approximately $279 thousand a year or if we go by their 24 /7 argument it would be $44.75 an hour or approximately $392 thousand a year. Welcome to your new paradigm – the one that says the poor have stuff so they aren’t really poor and the wealthy actually create jobs.

So Representatives Duffy and Southerland cheer up – your financial plight isn’t as dire as you thought. I’m sure the annualized adjusted salaries are respectful enough even for you. If they aren’t you still have the option of not running for re-election and entering the blistering hot jobs market of which you did nothing to contribute to in this new Congress. Keep complaining and we’ll have to start taking a good hard look at your benefits too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Changing Attitude Towards President Obama

The malcontents and haters are at it again blaming the President for the GOP’s incalcitrant behavior. The GOP have never made a secret that their goal is to deny Barack Obama at every turn and then accuse him of nefarious behavior when he is forced to play politics to get anything done. Despite the GOP’s efforts he has continued to outperform them politically and bring measured but undeniably progressive leaning measures to fruition but he has paid a steady price in his poll numbers.

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that circumstance beyond any man’s control have evolved or possibly conspired to meet the GOP’s stated goal of making him a one term President?  Big business continues to post record profits while refusing to expand the workforce with anything other than low paying and non-benefited positions. The national wealth continues to migrate upwards to the already wealthy and their obscenely low tax rates in effect driving down demand in the market, reducing government revenues and sequestering money that should be stimulating job growth thereby putting to lie the idea that they are job creators. The poor and middle class are blamed for the bad business decisions made in boardrooms of banks and investment houses by people far more savvy about financial instruments and economics.

All this continues while from the direction of the far right and those that pose in colonial costumes try to drown out any thought that President Obama’s programs could be working for all of us. No one that gathered at a Koch Brothers sponsored event or were spurred on by the delusional ravings of megalomaniacs with microphones will ever be hurt by the changes proposed and passed during President Obama’s initial administration. They are driven by something that they have tried to convince themselves no longer exists or to which they are somehow immune – Racism and Hate.

The thought that those in need of assistance are dishonest, lazy and don’t look anything like the typical Tea Partier – white, middle-aged and still employed or lucky enough to have a secure retirement future – drive their racist attacks against “them”. Taking a good look at a cross section of those affected by the George Bush Administration driven recession will show all sectors of our society have been hit; although, Blacks and Hispanics have borne a far heavier burden. The simple fact of the last statement should put to rest the racist nature of our society and this movement in particular. Without a doubt the invective which these statements will be met will support the hate.

We can continue to expect the right to hurl accusations that the left will only be happy when the American Experiment fails and we are left with a socialist or communist country. These comments along with the charge that the Left is waging class warfare are made in the hope of shaming people in light of their beliefs that this is what the Founding Fathers expected for this country. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

While there may be parties with purely socialist or communist ideals most people that identify with the left are at ease with a profit motive and the accumulation of wealth. However, we expect fairness in the marketplace and an open forum for ideas. We expect that the values that are identified as American are honored and upheld by the actions of our leaders. We acknowledge that not everyone will be successful but that does not make it incumbent upon those who are to berate or ignore them. Unfettered laissez-faire capitalism is not driven by morality thereby necessitating the imposition of morality through social policy and regulation of capitalism. Like it or not our founding documents do not mandate a market system but ideals for which we should reach.

Those that count themselves among the President’s supporters in 2008 - we are in danger of losing the progress for which we voted. I’ve noted the derision of how we speak of each other on the various social networks available to us. Everyone that supported the President with their vote needs to realize that he will need you to be there in 2012 with a friend or two in tow. Obama’s base needs to realize that the internecine feud being carried out is not a productive use of our energy. We all had our reasons for voting for the President in ‘08 and they have not changed.

We cannot allow further erosion of personal liberties and rights. The situations played out in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Arizona and Florida should give us all the motivation to ensure the President’s victory but we need more. A friendly soul pointed out to me recently that not only must we return Obama to the Oval Office but we need to send him more support in the form of Democrats in the House and Senate. I cannot tell you what to do but do something to counter any idea that more conservatives in Washington DC or any statehouse is the answer – it’s not.

My final thought is that the President should hold his course. If the actions of the right cause him to change the far right might realize that by not working on the people’s business with Obama now they may unleash a situation that no one will control.