Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 26, 2012

Economic Statistics for 26 Jul 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index fell to -38.5 from last week’s -37.9.

The Pending Home Sales Index fell -1.4% in June, to 99.3, as low housing prices keep existing homes off the market, reducing the available inventory.

Initial jobless claims fell sharply, down 35,000 to 353,000. The 4-week average fell 8,750 to 367,250. Continuing claims fell 30,000 to 3.287 million. There is a lot of weekly variation in the numbers, as the auto industry re-tools over the summer, so the 4-week average is the better number to look at right now.

Buoyed mainly by aircraft sales, durable goods orders rose 1.6% in June, up 8.0% from last year. Ex transportation, however, orders fell -1.1%, and were up only 3.0% from last year.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing index slipped 6 points to a reading of 3 in Jul.

Dale Franks
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Prepare for a “sea change” in health care thanks to government intervention

This interview, soon to be forgotten by most who see it and probably unseen by the majority of the country, is a very important and significant interview.

Watch it carefully, because Dr. Louis MacIntyre is about to lay out our future health care system for everyone (for whatever reason the “embed” link is not cooperating, so I’ve linked it).

Three things jump out at you.  One: the fact that costs for insurance and regulatory compliance are rising while reimbursement is dropping has doctors being forced into looking at an entirely new model for health care.

Where now, it is marginally patient centered, the “improvements” are going to drive them and the system to a more process centered care.  Think VA hospital vs. private care.  In a VA hospital the physicians work for the VA.  They are, by contract, required to do things the VA way, even if those things they do don’t necessarily represent the best care for the patient.

In private practice, doctors are “outcome driven” vs. process driven.  Hence they work within standard treatment parameters to address the patients problem but are free to try other methods that are indicated via their training and experience.  We’re headed into a “process driven” environment.

Two: as the costs rise and more and more doctors are driven from private practice, they’ll seek employment in hospitals.   They will then, as Dr. McIntyre notes, unionize to protect their compensation from dropping rates of reimbursement (remember, that’s supposedly one of the driving concerns of reform).  They will then go from being a “profession” to a “trade association”.  And that trade association’s focus will not be patient advocacy, but instead, trade advocacy.

Three: left out of all of this “sea change” that is likely to happen?  The patient.  You.  Your choices are going to be limited.  You’ll have very little to no say in a process driven environment.  And the chances of an actual relationship with a doctor who will intimately know your case are virtually non-existent if, in fact, we end up with a system of VA like hospital care centers. 

Consider all of that carefully.  Then ask yourself this: what bright and talented person, knowing that was the environment they’d have to commit themselves too, would willingly spend the years necessary to obtain an MD just to become an employee of a hospital and not allowed to use any creativity or experience (or anything outside the processes protocols) to treat patients?

Yeah, not many.

But, don’t forget – health care will be “better” and “less costly” because government says so.


Twitter: @McQandO

Whether you agree or disagree with Chick-fil-A, government has no role in the debate

Frankly, I think Chick-fil-A has jumped the shark by taking a position at all on a social issue.  The purpose of their business, I assume, is to sell sandwiches. 

However, they have taken one and it is controversial.

Viva la free speech.  Welcome to America.

What is just as controversial however, are government entities deciding to take action based on the company’s exercise of its right to free speech.

This is where I totally disagree.  This is none of any government’s business.  None.

I think Mike Krempasky has it just about right, and this is one of those “let’s put the shoe on the other foot” moments where you have to do a little thinking about how you’d react if such a thing was done to an entity which said something you agree with:

For those of you cheering the mayors of Boston and Chicago for taking such a courageous stance against the creeping horde of Chick-fil-A stores because of the speech and beliefs of its leadership – WHAT THE H#!! IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I presume you’d be outraged and maybe even scared of your government if some arch-conservative mayor or city manager just declared that Ben and Jerry’s stores would no longer be granted building permits.

I’m sure you’d head to the barricades if a governor of state decided that only Republicans or only Democrats were allowed to operate businesses in that state just because of how the voters choose politicians.

If *you* don’t like the values of a company, than *you* shouldn’t shop there. And then you should spend your energy, attention, and yes – money (yay Citizens United!) to encourage your friends and community not to shop there. But enlisting the help of government to punish your competitors, your enemies, or even just those you find distasteful? Rewarding the politicians willing do so so? Might as well just start distributing Little Red Books.

I disagree with the Chick-fil-A stance (and from a business standpoint, find it abysmally stupid, but hey, it is their company and in a free society, they, like Ben and Jerry’s, are free to do stupid things). As Mike points out, I disagree with much of what the owners of Ben and Jerry’s have publicly said.  I also have the ability to do something about that and have.  Because, the right to free speech doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  It just means government can’t levy them.

One thing I have never done nor would ever condone is government action or intervention –at any level – in reaction to a social stance by a business.  Instead, I have simply never, ever knowingly put a spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in my mouth nor bought a single ounce of it.  I’ll most likely punish Chick-fil-A the same way.  There are lots of choices out there.

But government at any level has no business at all involved in this – none – and anyone who says they should be involved has got to realize the ramifications of such a demand.  It could, at some point, be used against some business you support.  And you wouldn’t have a moral or ethical leg to stand on in protest against such action.

Freedom of speech is there to protect the speaker from government.  Its biggest test comes with speech we don’t agree with.

In the case of Chick-fil-A the calls for government action (and the threats by government against the business) are in contravention of that right and fail that test.

Those calling for government action against speech they don’t agree with be should be ashamed.


Twitter: @McQandO

Indicator poll: Democratic enthusiasm way down

We’ve talked about it in the past.  Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts are best when voter enthusiasm is high.  In a per dollar spent ratio, GOTV efforts are most efficient when voters are enthusiastic. 

Democrats may have a problem this year according to Gallup:


voter enthusiasm

In fact, Democratic voters are less enthusiastic than they were in 2004.  GOP voters, on the other hand, are at the same level as 2004 and much more enthusiastic than in 2008.

That’s not to say overall voter enthusiasm is anything to brag about. 

voter enthusiasm1

The point of the above chart is that voters recognize that the choices they face are not at all that pleasing.  Obviously as in past races, voter enthusiasm will pick up in the next three months.  But it seems clear that the politics of this election are not at all compelling to many voters at this point.  The reasons are most likely varied.  However, what is clear is the GOP base is much more motivated at this point, and by a wide margin, than the Democrat base.

No matter how you slice it or attempt to spin it, that’s not good news for Obama.


Twitter: @McQandO