Category Archives: Policy

Why ObamaCare ACA policies skyrocketed in price

Today, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) made an ass of herself by telling straight up lies about the ACA, affordability and pre-existing conditions.

Here is a link to my 52 page paper that thoroughly explains why the ACA failed to control prices – and how to fix it. I put over 1,000 hours of my life into researching and writing that paper. I encourage reading the first few pages so you can understand what the problems are, why many are harmed by the ACA, and ideas on fixing it. Feinstein revealed she doesn’t understand the ACA or other health care laws and is an outrageous liar, on the level of Trump.

Ultimately I found that my elected representatives did not care. They wanted to retain the problems to use them as a political football – rather than fix them. Their behavior is indistinguishable from sociopaths. I gave up trying to have any impact on fixing the ACA. Our elected representatives do not give a shit and shockingly that is the Democrats who wrote, passed it with their super majority, and then intentionally refuse to fix it so they can use it as political football. Jerks.

FYI – cost of a barebones “Silver” plan for two of us is $2,000 per month, with a $7,000 deductible. ACA policies are not like your corporate ESI benefits. They are effectively catastrophic coverage. When the ACA came out, Democratic promotors called pre-ACA policies “junk policies”, when, in actual fact, the ACA sells junk policies at 4x the price. If we lived in Laramie WY, the cost would be about $4,000 per month with a $5,000 deductible. Affordable? No, those are Democratic party propaganda lies. The subsidy cut off is about $68,000/year in PRE-tax income. If you earn $1 more, you pay the full $4,000 per month and then starve to death since you won’t be able to buy food. Read my linked paper above. Pre-existing conditions? Before the ACA, over 90% of the U.S. population already had pre-existing condition protections (read my paper – that is an easily verifiable fact). Yet this week, the Democrats again trotted out their outright lie that 135 million Americans are at risk of losing their insurance – which does not pass the giggle test. That implies that one third of the U.S. had no health insurance before the ACA, which is easily shown as not true. They tell Trumpian level lies on a daily basis-and the media morons let them get away with it.

Car Seats as Contraception 

The unintended consequences of laws – the end of 3 children families.

Abstract

Since 1977, U.S. states have passed laws steadily raising the age for which a child must ride in a car safety seat. These laws significantly raise the cost of having a third child, as many regular-sized cars cannot fit three child seats in the back. Using census data and state-year variation in laws, we estimate that when women have two children of ages requiring mandated car seats, they have a lower annual probability of giving birth by 0.73 percentage points. Consistent with a causal channel, this effect is limited to third child births, is concentrated in households with access to a car, and is larger when a male is present (when both front seats are likely to be occupied). We estimate that these laws prevented only 57 car crash fatalities of children nationwide in 2017. Simultaneously, they led to a permanent reduction of approximately 8,000 births in the same year, and 145,000 fewer births since 1980, with 90% of this decline being since 2000.

Source: Car Seats as Contraception by Jordan Nickerson, David H. Solomon :: SSRN

Google joins AMA, AOPA, and EAA asking the FAA to make fundamental changes to the FAA’s Remote ID proposal

This is significant: AMA, AOPA, EAA and Google’s sister company, Wing, urge FAA to Make Essential Changes to Remote ID Rule | AMA IN ACTION Advocating for Members

Last December, the FAA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Remote ID of remote control small aircraft that will de facto ban home made radio controlled model aircraft. That ban is not subtle but intentional in the FAA’s rules. The FAA fully intends to ban the nearly 100 year old model aircraft hobby – under the new rules, only certified, manufactured model aircraft which continuously transmit their location in real time (probably at the cost of a monthly subscription fee) would be permitted.

Additionally, the FAA would move flights of existing model aircraft to about 2,400 “reservations” – a number that would gradually shrink over time to the point that all home made radio controlled aircraft would be banned in the United States.

The purpose of the FAA’s proposal is to seize the public airspace over the United States and turn it over to private industrial drone operations, and to increase costs to members of the public – by mandating realtime, continuous location data transmissions into cloud databases for a likely fee – so as to largely eliminate all model aircraft. This is why it is significant that Google has joined in this effort to retain the traditional model aircraft hobby.

The FAA largely banned ultralight aircraft through a convoluted and confusing set of multiple rule making proceedings. The effect was to ban the use of two-seat ultralights for training purposes. The ultralight flying community has largely vanished as a result. The FAA has gone down the same path to regulate all airspace not only in your backyard, but under their proposal, to regulate the airspace even inside your home. The effect is to ultimately eliminate model aircraft in the U.S. in order to turn over the airspace in your backyard to private corporations. This is not wild speculation – this is exactly how their NPRM was written.

It’s worse than we thought: “Second Analysis of Ferguson’s Model”

In the past I had some comments on Neil Ferguson’s disease model and have repeatedly noted its poor quality. This model was used, last spring, as the basis for setting government policies to respond to Covid-19. Like many disease models, its output was garbage, unfit for any purpose.

The following item noted that the revision history, since last spring, is available and shows that ICL has not been truthful about the changes made to the original model code.

Source: Second Analysis of Ferguson’s Model – Lockdown Sceptics

THIS! Many academic models including disease models and climate models, average the outputs from multiple runs, some how imaginatively thinking that this produces a reliable projection – uh, no, it does not work that way.

An average of wrong is wrong.  There appears to be a seriously concerning issue with how British universities are teaching programming to scientists. Some of them seem to think hardware-triggered variations don’t matter if you average the outputs (they apparently call this an “ensemble model”).

Averaging samples to eliminate random noise works only if the noise is actually random. The mishmash of iteratively accumulated floating point uncertainty, uninitialised reads, broken shuffles, broken random number generators and other issues in this model may yield unexpected output changes but they are not truly random deviations, so they can’t just be averaged out.

Software quality assurance is often missing in academic projects that are used for public policy:

For standards to improve academics must lose the mentality that the rules don’t apply to them. In a formal petition to ICL to retract papers based on the model you can see comments “explaining” that scientists don’t need to unit test their code, that criticising them will just cause them to avoid peer review in future, and other entirely unacceptable positions. Eventually a modeller from the private sector gives them a reality check. In particular academics shouldn’t have to be convinced to open their code to scrutiny; it should be a mandatory part of grant funding.

The deeper question here is whether Imperial College administrators have any institutional awareness of how out of control this department has become, and whether they care. If not, why not? Does the title “Professor at Imperial” mean anything at all, or is the respect it currently garners just groupthink?

When a software model – such as a disease model – is used to set public policies that impact people’s lives – literally life or death – these models should adhere to standards for life-safety critical software systems. There are standards for, say, medical equipment, or nuclear power plant monitoring systems, or avionics – because they may put people’s lives at risk. A disease model has similar effects – and hacked models that adhere to no standards have no business being used to establish life safety critical policies!

I and another software engineer had an interaction with Gavin Schmidt of NASA regarding software quality assurance of their climate model or paleoclimate histories[1]. He noted they only had funding for 1/4 of a full time equivalent person to work on SQA – in other words, they had no SQA. Instead, their position was that the model’s output should be compared to others. This would be like – instead of testing, Microsoft would judge its software quality by comparing the output of MS Word to the output of another word processor. In other words, sort of a quailty-via-proxy analogy. Needless to say, this is not how SQA works.

Similarly, the climate model community always averages multiple runs from multiple models to create projections. They do this even when some of the model projections are clearly off the rails. Averaging many wrongs does not make a right.

[1] Note that NASA does open source their software which enables more eyes to see the code, and I do not mean to pick on NASA or Schmidt here. They are doing what they can within their funding limitations. The point, however is that SQA is frequently given short shrift in academic-like settings.

Police departments nationwide are encrypting their radio communications, just as the public is demanding transparency

Radio “Scanners” have long been used by media, press, and volunteer responders[1] to listen to public safety communications in the U.S. Now, police departments nationwide are digitally encrypting their radio communications, cutting off access – just as the public seeks greater transparency and accountability from the police.

Portland police started encrypting officers’ radio communications June 3, days after nightly protests against racism and police brutality began. The switch came without public input or notice.

Source: Despite push for police accountability, PPB, local agencies latest in U.S. to encrypt radio communication – oregonlive.com

[1] In the past I have been a volunteer firefighter, a search and rescue volunteer, a Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer, and also an ARES/RACES communications volunteer. I often left a scanner running to have a “heads up” on potential call outs – this was especially the case for SAR, Red Cross and ARES/RACES communications in support of public safety agencies. As police – and some fire departments – encrypt their communications, this harms volunteers ability to respond. (Volunteers respond from their homes, don’t have red lights and sirens, and preparing to respond to a likely call out can save time.) Journalists are also cut off and this harms their ability to report on events occurring in their communities. Secrecy also harms public relations, obviously. But the truth is, scanner listeners are generally supportive of their local public safety agencies; cut them off and police lose that support.

Some agencies are encrypting their communications but distributing a non-encrypted audio stream on the Internet with a delay, ranging from 2 to 30 minutes.

The Failed Experiment of Covid Lockdowns – WSJ

There are other published papers that came to this conclusion long ago – lock downs are useful for a few weeks, and are not otherwise sustainable in most societies (and especially for entire regions or countries) and people will not follow them for long because they cannot.

Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health—first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections.

Source: The Failed Experiment of Covid Lockdowns – WSJ

Saw someone on Facebook proclaiming that if “we had a HARD LOCKDOWN like Wuhan” this would have all be over with. This person did not seem to realize that China’s lock down was for a limited region of their country, not the entire country. A country wide lock down is not feasible and not sustainable.

The concept of a lock down goes back hundreds of years when coastal communities would develop outbreaks of diseases upon arrival of ships. Their solution was to isolate the sailors and quarantine the community. This could work in a small, isolated communities hundreds of years ago. But the U.S. federal government concluded in 2004 that lock downs were infeasible. A 2006 paper by 4 epidemiologists drew the same conclusions; one of the authors is credited with having eradicated smallpox from the planet.

Public health pandemic responses have not advanced in hundreds of years, and are unworkable. This explains why so many regions and countries that were doing everything right and looked great eventually end up no longer looking great. The viral outbreak mostly does what the viral outbreak does. Random correlations, especially those ignoring the time dimension, are easy to make and to incorrectly conclude that measure X had some great impact.

All pandemics eventually end – due to herd effects, vaccines, the virus mutates, or people eventually get on with life and ignore the restrictions – or a combination of all of them.

Remember, since I do not work in health care I am de facto required to note that I am an idiot with no expertise in any of this and my comments are for Entertainment Purposes Only. The CDC, meanwhile, is now issuing economic Orders even though it has no expertise in that area and does not provide any disclaimer.

CDC bans rental evictions through Dec 31, 2020

What expertise does the CDC have in this matter?

To be eligible for protection, renters will need to provide proof of their inability to pay rent because of the pandemic.

Source: Renters in U.S. cannot be evicted through the end of the year due to coronavirus, CDC order states – MarketWatch

The CDC has no expertise what so ever in making real estate, financial and economic orders – but is now asserting that the powers of public health are unlimited. Lawyers, writing on social media, say the legal basis for the CDC regulating housing is quite a stretch.

In an election year, this action seems to be based on politics – and not much else.

Public health has asserted itself as a politicized totalitarian regime.  I no longer  believe a word from any one in public health. Remember, protesting is now more important than fighting a virus, they said. That virus that was the reason we shut down everything, put 40 million people out of work and close our schools.

Stay Home, Save Lives, Don’t Kill Grandma gave way to “Protest! Kill Grandma!”

The above was not supportable by any evidence – that, like the CDC asserting evictions bans, is based on politics and not science. Public health appears to be a fake science at this point.

Update: My state extended its “state of emergency” through November 3rd (the national election date). As of November 4th, the pandemic emergency is apparently over with. Talk about politicizing.

Federal Reserve to embrace inflation; easy way to inflate our way out of the debt caused by printing trillions of $s

The Federal Reserve announced a significant change in how it manages interest rates by saying it plans to keep rates near zero even after inflation has exceeded the Fed’s 2% target level.

Source: Fed: Rates to Stay Ultra-Low Even After Inflation Picks Up | Business News | US News

Having done the virtual equivalent of printing a few trillion $s to paper over the pandemic policy induced recession, apparently this will be paid off via inflation.

Inflation causes the devaluation of the currency you hold – and in effect, taxes everyone that is holding cash.

This means that today’s debts will be paid off with future cheaper dollars. Inflation is good for those who have debts such as the U.S. government and bad for those holding cash.

During inflation (reducing the value of dollars), holding real assets is preferable to holding cash. Because the value of those assets will rise proportional to the devaluation of the currency, all else being equal.

Duh: “New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly – WSJ”

Blanket business shutdowns—which the U.S. never tried before this pandemic—led to a deep recession. Economists and health experts say there may be a better way.

Source: New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly – WSJ

That’s behind a paywall but related contemporary thoughts here  and thoughts from professional epidemiologists in 2006 – who concluded that while a lock down works to control the disease, lock downs are not a sustainable solution.

Lock downs do not end the pandemic – they delay the onset of new cases. Pandemics end through herd immunity, vaccines, or virus mutation.

Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”

Some of the factors that shape the frequency and severity of wildfire in California, like drought, record high temperatures and strong winds are beyond our control and in many cases, exacerbated by a changing climate. Other factors, such as how we manage our fire-adapted conifer forests, where we build homes and how we prepare and protect our communities are within our control.

Source: The Nature Conservancy – California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History

Media and social media have been quick to blame California’s fires (including recent years and the present) on climate change. Social media instapundits proclaim that “only if we had done X on climate change” this would not have happened. Or if “Politician X was not in office” we would have solved climate change and this would have prevented the fires.

But that makes no sense – what could have been done on climate change, last year, or five years ago or ten years ago or even 20 years ago that would have effected forest fires this year? If we magically ended all fossil fuel usage 20 years ago, the forest fire risk this year would have been exactly the same.

While dealing with climate is an issue, it would have done nothing vis a vis current fires. Nor will spending trillions on climate change in the next 10 or 20 years resolve California’s fire problems – since spending trillions diverts enormous sums to climate change, it  diverts money away from measures that would reduce California fire risk now.

We need to  control what we can control – now. And that is what this Nature Conservancy report says.

Update: More here on how building codes evolved to create safer structures in earthquake prone areas, whereas we have not evolved building codes to make safer fire proof structures in fire prone areas. Fire is a natural part of the California ecosystem – and now, millions of people are living within areas that are dependent on fire.

Continue reading Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”