Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

When government interferes in a market, results are predictable

And it is neck deep in health care.  So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?

Oh, just great:

The doctor is disappearing in America.

And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.

Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.

Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”.  However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?

Why the gatekeeper of course.  And, that’s by design.  Government design:

Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.

Why?

The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.

Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model?  Can you say “Medicare”?  And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.

Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage.  It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.

Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:

The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.

As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care.  And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.

Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they?  Why of course more government.  You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 31 Mar-1 Apr 16

31 Mar

The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate was 44.4 percent in March. 

Challenger reports that the number of layoff announcements fell to 48,207 in March.

The Chicago PMI rose from 47.6 to 53.6 in March.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 11,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,500 to 263,250. Continuing claims fell -7,000 to 2.173 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.8 points to 42.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-10.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.483 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $37.5 billion in the latest week.

1 Apr

Motor vehicle sales slowed sharply in March, down -5.1% to a 16.6M annual rate.

215,000 net new jobs were created in March, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.0%. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.0%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.

The PMI Manufacturing Index was only slightly changed, up 0.2 points to 51.5.

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose from 49.5 to 51.8 in March.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 1.0 point to 91.0 in March.

Construction spending fell -0.5% in February, but the year-on-year rate of spending was up 10.3%.

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Meanwhile, The New Red Guard carries on …

Under the banner, “you can’t make this stuff up”, enjoy the following bit of idiocy:

Southwestern University in Texas has canceled its annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” because its author, Eve Ensler, is white — and featuring a performance written by a white lady would just not be inclusive to women of other races.

Instead, the school will host a performance of “We are Women,” which promises to “address similar experiences while emphasizing women of color,” according an article in the Megaphone, the school’s official newspaper.

Well, it promotes “similar experiences” except for white women I guess.  Who knew “women of color” didn’t have vaginas?

Yes, this is indeed patently absurd.  The Vagina Monologues was written as a feminist play to emphasize the supposed problems of women.  Thus it was totally inclusive of … women.  But not inclusive enough for The New Red Guard.

In fact:

Cancelling performances of “The Vagina Monologues” has become a bit of a trend on college campuses these days. For example, just last year, all-women’s Mount Holyoke College canceled its own performance on the grounds that the production was not “inclusive” enough to people who identify as women but do not have actual vaginas.

No, really … it’s all about their definition of “inclusivity” and a feminist play, if written by a white woman, just doesn’t make the grade anymore.

You have to laugh at this sort of nonsense to remain sane.  The one sterling good coming out of all of this is at whom many of these attacks are aimed.  Leftists.  Old Guard leftists.  And a more deserving group I cannot imagine.

But the real point here is the implied claim that whites, no matter their gender, have nothing of value to say or add.  This isn’t new by any stretch, it’s just become more common.  For instance, this from early last year from The New Red Guard at, yeah, Berkeley:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

Of course, if you look closely, it’s not just “white men” they’re shooting at, it is the foundational philosophies of the West.  Apparently they believe that if there were women and persons of color writing philosophy during the same eras, they must have had something just as important to say, seeing as how their cultures matured equally with that of the West (and yeah, I know that some of the dead white dudes were not especially enamored of the West’s culture at the time). What the TNRG don’t seem to understand is they live in Western culture and the class is about “classical social theory” and thus likely wouldn’t include philosophers who had no impact on that “classical society” or those who lived outside of it and had no impact.

But this is all about gender and skin color … not context or logic.

Speaking of context and logic, James Lileks adds them:

College, apparently, is now a place where the notions of people freshly matriculated from high school must be handled with oven mitts and lightly buffed with soft cloth lest their orthodoxies suffer the slightest abrasion. Like the school that canceled the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues because it othered non-traditional women who lacked the titular orifice, it’s a delightful example of leftist autophagy. Marx is in foul order in Berkeley not for his ideas, or the heaps of corpses accumulated in his name, but because he had a prostate.

Yes, indeed. Oh, and because he was white.

~McQ

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“Occidentophobia”?

Interesting article by a Dutch author that talks about the immigrant problem in Europe.  As always, read the whole thing.  But I was struck by these two paragraphs:

In December 2013, Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center published a study on “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility,” in which he compared hostility among Muslim immigrants with hostility among Christian natives in Western Europe. He writes: “Almost 60 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Quran possible to which every Muslim should stick and 65 percent say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live.” In regards to Christian citizens he concludes: “Less than 4 percent can be characterized as consistent fundamentalists.”

On hatred of Jews and homosexuals among Europe’s Muslim population, Koopmans finds: “Almost 60 percent reject homosexuals as friends and 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted. While about one in five natives can be considered as Islamophobic, the level of phobia against the West among Muslims — for which oddly enough there is no word; one might call it ‘Occidentophobia’ — is much higher still, with 54 percent believing that the West is out to destroy Islam.” Recorded rates of Christian hate toward Muslims hover around 10 percent.

I am enamored of the new term because, more than anything, it is a term that can be thrown back at those who like to trot out “Islamaphobia” each and every time anyone attempts to discuss radical Islam.  So what’s the problem with Muslims, aka the “religion of peace”, that so many of them have hatred for the West and Western ways?  Doesn’t that qualify for a “phobia” for heaven sake – especially in the era of being tagged as ___aphobic (fill in the blank) of you disagree about anything the left is invested in.

The article says much of the problem in Europe is that Muslims there aren’t assimilated.  I can believe that.  The question, however, is how much of that is Europe’s fault and how much of that is the immigrant’s fault.  For instance, if you’re not willing to subordinate your culture (religious or otherwise) to the dominant culture, you’re not going to be assimilated.  If that’s the case, and the numbers are as indicated, aren’t then a majority of immigrant Muslims “phobic” about the West?

So, why are they there?

That’s the salient question, if the data is true, and it is one that EU leaders and those in the US, won’t ask or face.

If not to assimilate, what is the purpose of your immigration?

That question likely will see me labeled as “Islamophobic”.  If so, I can live with that.

~McQ

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It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat.  Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.

If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat.  They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace.  Certainly they have no navy.  And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.

But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?

Of course it isn’t.  They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”.  They’re using guerrilla tactics.  They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands.  And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:

The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.

The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.

“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells FoxNews.com. “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”

The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.

The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.

There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned.  Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.

But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez.  And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant.  We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.

Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.

Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:

They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.

Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:

“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.

“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”

But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”.  And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat.  And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate.  When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.

…. Nah!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 Mar 16

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose 4 points in March to 96.2.

State Street’s Investor Confidence Index rose 8.1 points in March to 114.6.

The Case-Schiller Home Price Index rose 0.8% in January. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.7%.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a lackluster 1.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 28 Mar 16

Exports rose 2.0% and imports rose 1.6% in February, leaving a $-62.9 billion deficit for the month’s international trade in goods.

February personal income rose 0.2%, while consumer spending rose 0.1%. The PCE price index fell -0.2%, but the core rate rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE Price Index is up 1.0% overall, and 1.7% at the core.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.5% to 109.1 in February.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey rose strongly from -31.8, but remains deeply negative at -13.6 in March. The production index rose from -8.5 to 3.3.


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Stray Voltage

It’s almost as if Donald Trump is a Democratic operative:

Hillary Clinton had a gaffe-filled, staggeringly bad week last week. It started with her politicizing Nancy Reagan’s funeral and ended with more explosive allegations that her informal adviser Sidney Blumenthal had directly cut and pasted classified intelligence into an unsecured personal e-mail account. But you wouldn’t know it from media campaign coverage, which has been far more occupied with the GOP primary and the escalation of violent incidents at rallies.

Oh, it got a mention here and there, but the Trump thing (the Trump thing as a whole) has sucked all the oxygen out of the news cycle – and it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s purposefully being done by the media.  You know, I’d be “shocked, shocked I tell you!”

The intolerant New Red Guard were at it at Emory University this week:

Students protested yesterday at the Emory Administration Building following a series of overnight, apparent pro-Donald Trump for president chalkings throughout campus.

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad.

Yes, friends, chalk markings on the sidewalk put them in PAIN!  Pain I tell you.  They needed protected and the only acceptable way to protect them … the usual, stifle speech and set the university up they way they prefer.

Thankfully a student at Emory understands the danger of pandering to these intolerant crybabies.  Amelia Sims writes:

I agree with the protesters: Donald Trump has neither the character, temperament, nor policy knowledge to assume the presidency. 

However, classifying support for a major presidential candidate as “hate speech” endangers the democracy that we hold so dear.

Universities do not exist to create insulated echo boxes, which shelter students from ideas that provoke offense or discomfort. In class, professors assign ideologically offensive texts so that students may learn to analyze and challenge these arguments.

Quelling discomforting thoughts prevents a free exchange of ideas. It fosters an environment where resentment and radicalism fester and metastasize.

Students certainly have the right to protest, but I worry about a campus environment that frequently turns to shouting and censorship to defeat offensive ideas.

When protests become increasingly dominated by trivial concerns and histrionic displays, Orwellian newspeak and thought control begin to take hold.

Now if college presidents and administrators would grow a spine and follow her lead, maybe TNRG can call it a day and go back to whining about their grades instead.

Meanwhile, the Idiot-in-chief has been playing footsie with Commie dictators in Cuba.  Michael Totten brings a little reality to the gig:

The Cuban people, Castro says, won’t “relinquish what they have gained through great sacrifice.” What he really means is that the government won’t relinquish the power it has gained through bloodshed and repression.

No serious person believes there will be riots in the streets of Havana if people are allowed to earn more than 20 dollars a month. Not even the most ardent Castro apologist thinks Cubans will go into open rebellion if they’re allowed to vote for more than one party. Not a soul fears they’ll yearn to relocate to North Korea if they suddenly find themselves with freedom of speech and assembly.

During Monday’s press conference, Castro lashed out when CNN journalist Jim Acosta asked him about political prisoners. “If there are political prisoners,” the dictator said, “give me a list, right now. What political prisoners? Give me their names, and if there are political prisoners, they will be free by tonight.”

Oh, please. Just yesterday—a few hours before Obama landed in Havana—the regime arrested more than 20 people at a Ladies in White demonstration. Secret policemen dragged women to a police bus and threw men onto the ground and handcuffed them. The Ladies in White is an all-women movement of sisters, wives, and daughters of male political prisoners. What does Castro expect us to believe they’re protesting for?

Read the whole thing.  Totten has been to Cuba several times and doesn’t at all play the politically correct game Obama and crowd would prefer.  He calls Cuba what it is, a shipwrecked state that oppresses its people.

The latest excuse for false racial charges?  Why they “open up conversations”.

Falsely accusing someone of a crime is never okay and society should never excuse it. Sadly, today’s culture allows anyone to accuse someone of rape or racism and seek forgiveness by claiming the false accuser just wanted to “start a dialogue.”

In the recent race hoax at State University of New York at Albany, where three black women started a fight on a bus and accused a dozen white people of attacking them for being black, a professor at the school claimed they were justified because they started a conversation on race.

“My white students have said this has opened up conversations,” said Sami Schalk, an assistant professor in SUNY Albany’s English department. “Things that are inadvertent, small, but that these white students have no experience with, not being a person of color on this campus.”

That’s a bit like saying all Black Lives Matter wants to do is “start a conversation on race”.  It is the cult of the victim desperately looking for victimhood … so, one supposes, they can feel both oppressed and special.

An interesting take on why so many Muslims, especially the young, are becoming radicalized:

As a young Muslim boy growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was impossible for me to look up a hadith unless I traveled to an Islamic library, something I would have never thought to do. For all intents and purposes, if I wanted to know about the traditions of Muhammad, I had to ask imams or elders in my tradition of Islam. That is no longer the case today. Just as radical Islamists may spread their message far and wide online, so, too, the Internet has made the traditions of Muhammad readily available for whoever wishes to look them up, even in English. When everyday Muslims investigate the Quran and hadith for themselves, bypassing centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations, they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.

The Quran itself reveals a trajectory of jihad reflected in the almost 23 years of Muhammad’s prophetic career. As I demonstrate carefully in my book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, starting with peaceful teachings and proclamations of monotheism, Muhammad’s message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching. Throughout history, Muslim theologians have understood and taught this progression, that the message of the Quran culminates in its ninth chapter.

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys: Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. … Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation & other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” In other words, Muslims must depart from the literal reading of the Quran in order to create a jihad-free Islamic world.

Interesting that the solution is to “reject literalism”.  That and the fact that the Quran is now available to everyone without the buffer of an imam’s interpretation.  Of course there are also plenty of imams who push this very Surah as the reason Muslims must become activists.  Read the whole thing.

Our final insanity comes from a known place of insanity, UC Berkeley, where students have a demand:

The University of California in Berkeley administration must decide whether to provide abortions on campus to students who deem their uninterrupted education more important than the lives of their unborn children.

The Berkeley student senate has passed a resolution demanding that abortion, referred to as “medication abortion,” be made available on-campus so that female undergraduate and graduate students could “continue their education with little disruption.”

The resolution explains that the university’s Tang Center used to perform abortions in the 1980s, but now there are no longer trained abortionists at the center. Abortion is a right, their logic goes, and so abortion access is a right, too.

The resolution does not suggest how to fund its demand. But Aanchal Chugh, primary sponsor of the bill, told Campus Reform that school administrators should be willing to take pay cuts in order to fund on-campus abortion services. Students, she says, should not bear any financial burden.

You have to wonder how these spoiled children would feel if they knew their parents had had so little regard for their lives that they’d made the same demand in their day?  Of course, such a demand in their parents day would have received a raucous horselaugh (well, maybe not a Berkeley).  It’s all about their convenience.  They don’t want to have to leave campus to abort their child:

There are five abortion providers within 15 miles of the Berkeley campus, all of which accept MediCal health insurance. FPA Women’s Health, four miles from the campus, performs free abortions for women who lack health coverage for the procedure.

And, of course, they don’t want to pay for it.  Prototypical Bernie Sanders voters.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

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