Monday, 2 April 2012

The Supreme Court Folks and ObamaCare

It has been a week….enough time for the smoke to clear, and make a couple of observations.

First, I think the mandatory nature of the law….will be struck down by five to four. There’s not much doubt in my mind over that. If it isn’t struck down….some idiot Republicans will come out quickly and mandate that every American adult ought to have a weapon in their house, and this will all get messy over how far you can mandate folks to do something.

Second, the entire health care law might survive intact, without the mandatory nature. I could see the court sliding five to four in that sense. It’d be like tossing a defective baseball back into a game and making everyone try to play with the defective ball for the remainder of the game, or the umpires agreeing to meet and dig out a fresh new ball from their secret stash.

We’d see a comedy of sorts after November, with President Obama around for four more years, a screwed-up health care law, a Republican house operation, and a fifty-fifty group in the Senate. It’d be pure entertainment for four more years and no real repair to the system under this type environment.

Third, we really aren’t done with health care challenges in the Supreme Court. With 2300 pages, there will be still more challenges to come. So even if it continues on intact….it doesn’t mean too much, as more challenges could carve off another fourteen pages here, and twenty-five pages there.

So we come to my analogy of the health care law compared to a Ford Pinto. Back in 1970, the Ford guys came up with this nifty small car called the Pinto. It was small but it had this great 1.6L engine, and later had this over-powered 2.8L six-cylinder engine. The Ford guys bragged about the cost and sales price. For practical purposes, it was a car inviting the younger crowd who wanted savings but a nifty car to drive.

But as time went by…..there was this issue of the exploding gas tanks to arrive. About every four months….another exploding tank episode occurred and went into court.

To be honest, Ford could have designed the Pinto correctly to start with, and avoided this mess….but never did. They just didn’t think it’d amount to any big deal.

So as each year went by, fewer folks were inclined to buy a Pinto. It wasn’t a terribly unsafe car but public perception went against the Ford management team. They had allowed a simple problem to fester and never attended to public perception.

The health care law is the same as the Pinto…..it might actually be ok and acceptable, except the public has seen too many minor issues and gotten this perception that 2,300 pages are crammed full of loose ends, and this mandatory nature makes it a joke. In essence, we are stuck with a Pinto, that we just don’t desire.

The question is….will the President come to view this as a mess in August when they render their Supreme Court view of the law? If he was smarter than Ford….he’d come back and voice the repair necessary to bring the “Pinto” back into a supportive nature of the public. However, if he was as dimwitted as the Ford management team….he’d just trash all the negativity and just try to carry on with a public perception problem (they just don’t know how lucky they are to have a Ford Pinto that might occasionally explode upon impact).

The sad thing here was that the Pinto could have been fixed up, but the character of the Ford management team….made it a loser. We may be looking at a 2012 Ford management team strategy at work, and a Pinto-lose-lose vision of the healthcare situation.

The Eternal Capitalist

Over the past year, there’s been a number of political statements made about the terrible woes of capitalism and how it’s currently dying off. Today, I read through another rambling written piece....how capitalism just has to be replaced.  I sat and pondered over this commentary.

Basically, if you didn’t have capitalism….the government would determine the pricing of your booze, and it’d be $45 a bottle….don’t ask why or how they’d come to this decision….it just would be. Naturally, some guy in his garage would be distilling some booze, and he’d be selling it to the neighbors for $30 a bottle. Don’t ask the neighbor how he came to the logical pricing of $30….it just would be.

Then some kid in the neighborhood would have his still, and be underselling both the government and the neighbor, with a price of $20 a bottle. Don’t ask the kid to explain his pricing scheme because it just would be that price.

Then you’d have some housewife who would be distilling in her kitchen, and selling at $12 a bottle. She’d proudly tell you the contents, and how she was making forty-four percent profit off the actual price.

Capitalism….even though it was outlawed….would come back into our system.

You can outlaw capitalism a hundred times over….it won’t matter….it’ll come right back. Once you create some government monopoly over something and pretend there is a government pricing scheme to the object….some idiot will walk into your mess…..to recreate a private operation, and revive capitalism in just a few hours.

Capitalism doesn’t require a college education or some elite intellectual to make it work. Some eighth-grade drop-out could rebuild a capitalistic economy in a matter of hours.

Go ahead, and make a bottle of Coke $4 a bottle. Some kid will find the secret formula and rebrand it in his garage for $1 a bottle.

Go ahead and make a jar of peanut butter five bucks. Some kid would find the way to make the same jar for $4.

As much as folks run around…just terribly upset over capitalism….there just isn’t a wooden stake to kill off this “vampire”.

Capitalism is the reason why you have sixty-six different sodas in the Piggly Wiggly aisle to chose from (Coke, Coke Lite, Diet Coke, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Coke with no caffeine, etc).

Capitalism is the reason why you can fly to Vegas for less than $300 from almost any airport in America.

Capitalism is the reason why you can eat exotic fruits from Brazil on a daily basis.

Capitalism is the reason why an NFL team exists in Green Bay.

Capitalism is the reason why professional wrestling exists today.

Capitalism is the reason why the interstate exists.

Capitalism is the reason why professors make $80k a year teaching some kid how to grow corn, or fatten up hogs.

Capitalism is the reason why you have a cellphone that works across most of America today, and can actually connect you within ten seconds to some guy or gal in Perth, Australia.

Capitalism is the reason why A1 sauce exists, why Microsoft can reinvent itself every eighteen months, why Apple can rebrand the I-Phone yearly, and why you can ship a box from Boston to Salt Lake City in forty-eight hours.

Capitalism is why train travel died off in the 1960s, and why a pair of Chinese-made shoes at Wal-mart costs $19.99.

Capitalism is why you’ve got fifty-five choices of donuts at Crispy Crème, and why we don’t have three hundred episodes of Gilligan’s Island.

Capitalism is the reason why you tend to live an extra ten years past sixty-five.

At the end of the day, you can attempt to kill off capitalism as much as you want….but it just ain’t going to happen.

I Had This One Chance

It's not worth thinking much about....but my old associate from Ramstein back in 2008 got to talking about SIRI (Sirus XM Radio)….which had hit rock-bottom at 10-cents a share. He would buy around $10k of SIRI at that point. I bought into it when it was going back up around 18-cents a share, with just a thousand-dollar investment. It was a penny-stock type strategy and I figured I’d make a little profit and get out. I later sold mine at 25-cents. Then I bought back into it at 30-cents….selling them later at 38-cents. I made a fair profit off each increase and could not complain about my profits. My associate never sold his shares.

Four years have passed, and I noticed this weekend that SIRI is now $2.40. Basically, his $10k was now worth $240k. I haven’t talked to him in two years….but I’m pretty sure he’s still got all his shares. You can’t tell about this stuff….but it might hit $4 a share by the end of next year….bringing him up to $400k, with just a $10k investment.

Sometimes in the stock game, you just don’t know when you might be standing there with a tremendous winner.

The Truth About Plagiarism

Some folks in Hungry got around to examining the thesis of the ceremonial President of the country. You’d think they’d have better things to do….but they eventually decided that it was pretty plagiarized and terribly dishonest. So over the weekend, the ceremonial President resigned from office.

This kinda brings the entire topic of master’s degrees and this terrible awful business of thesis writing. I worked with a contractor from a decade ago who whined a great deal about the horrible pain and suffering he was having….over writing this stupid thesis to get his degree. He admitted that he just didn’t have that great of writing skills and creating something….out of nothing….just wasn’t his cup of tea. Another guy was listening to the conversation, and admitted that he had paid someone to rewrite his thesis after the first draft….because it was so bad.

My humble impression is….that probably over half of all thesis projects are not entirely written by the student. Some are rewritten by a grammar queen….to improve the English language usage, and ensure no improper usage of verbs and such. Then, there’s the other group which just couldn’t think of anything worth writing about, and paid some joker cash to write the whole thing from scratch. Finally, there’s the group which tried to write their own thesis….but got to a point where they just copied and pasted a good bit of it…..to show factual content, and make sure they got a decent grade for the final.

Is there any real value in the thesis? Well…in the old days….you were supposed to waste two years and show the school board that you actually learned something. You’d write up forty pages of stuff, with a few quotes, and the professors just ensured that you really understood your topic….without grading you on grammar, or the quote business. These days….you could lose an entire grade point….off a terribly written thesis that was all your own material. You could lose a grade point just off the limited use of quotes or limited use of factual material. Folks are fairly desperate in nature….after wasting two years at some college….to get a decent grade and show something for the $40k wasted on this effort.

So we come down to folks who now run around….wanting to read a thesis from ten, twenty and thirty years ago. In a comical way….it’s a got-you moment. Some guy got desperate….paid $400 to some joker to wrap up a poorly written thesis….and now, thirty years later….it’s going to come out in public. How many folks would fail a real review? You just don’t know….it might be five percent….it might be fifty-five percent. What does it say when the University did pass the guy thirty years ago…..and now has to revoke his thesis? Well….that’s another part of this puzzle….no one is admitting how you’d correct the screwed-up thesis situation…..except probably to pay the university even more money…..to accept a new drafted-up thesis.

Quotes Moment

“I think it’s two things.  I think it is the fact that in my view the Republican Party is no longer a conservative party. It’s become a radical party on a lot of these key issues. That’s number one. And number two, I just came back from New Zealand, OK. You have people living in the outback of Australia who would look at Mitt Romney, say, ‘Haha. Not authentic.’ I mean, it is just so obvious. I mean, you know this is a guy who’s running against everything he’s believed his whole life. And it’s just so staggeringly.”

- Quote from yesterday by New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman.

There are a handful of journalists that I don't pay much attention to anymore....Thomas Friedman is one of those.

What you end up with is some intellectual guy who wants to tell you that in reality....the Democratic Party is no longer the radical party....it's now the Republican Party.  Some radical folks will be traumatized by this insult and seek out some wannabe political expert to explain how the Democrats lost their radical status to the idiot Republican Party.

So if you believe his comments....the only logical sense of life is to come back to the old conservative Democratic Party and feel that they are safe.  My feeling is that it'd take a good bit of Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon (the cheapest whiskey in America today at $14 a bottle)....to get a guy to think the safer conservative party is the Democrats.

Then you come to this second comment about the outback....which is in Australia....not New Zealand.  How would a guy to hear outback comments in New Zealand?  He'd either sip some cheap New Zealand booze or just imagine what they'd say in the outback.  To be kinda honest, if you rounded up forty Crocodile Dundee-characters from the outback.....most never heard of Mitt, Ron Paul, Newt, or that Rick guy.  In fact, you'd be lucky if they had heard of Joe Biden or Lady Gaga.  So I'm left with only one conclusion....Thomas Friedman probably had a dozen radical Democrats with him when he toured New Zealand, and they kept chatting over the Republicans in some manner....that Thomas thinks he heard the comments from some actual outback individual.

Simply Observations

A number of stories popping up this morning over the shooting in south Florida of fourteen people shot at some wake for a dead kid.  Cops report two of the fourteen are dead.  Best that they can say....the dead kid for the wake was a member of some gang and was about to be caught at some store, when he jumped to his dead from the fourth floor parking garage.  Relatives and friends showed at the funeral....as did a rival gang, who fired off rounds at everyone.  A logical guy would ask if the Trayvon crowd could get all hostile and peppy over this needless shooting, with several innocent folks shot.....but so far, no reaction.  No reaction seen on MSNBC.  No reaction seen on ABC.  No real reaction by any national-level news organization.  Unless you can prove it was a Latino gang.....no one will really care, and that says something.

Tuesday, NBC's Today Show will have a guest host for the whole show.....former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.  Some folks are wondering the numbers count, while going against perky Katie Couric on the Good Morning America show.  If there was a fair-sized audience watching Palin....it might influence NBC a bit on thinking of a future deal with the ex-governor.  I sat and pondered over this episode.  Frankly, I don't watch any morning TV past 7AM and don't really care who they hire.  I'm also of the mind that whatever numbers that Governor Palin pulls.....there's also a loss-numbers column where far-left Today viewers have to leave and go off to ABC.  Nothing really gained or lost, if you ask me.

Finally, there's an interesting statistical map that the Wall Street Journal printed this weekend....entitled: the health effect (by Dante Chinni).  It lays out the nation and who doesn't have health care insurance currently (county by county).  The curious thing is that Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and Montana are sitting there with twenty-three percent or more of their population.....without health care insurance.  Then you start to come over to states like Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia Iowa, and Wisconsin.....where they all had fifteen percent or less of their population without health care insurance.  One county....Hudspeth County, Texas.....had 42 percent without health care insurance.  When you look over the numbers....you would say that certain areas of the US had a serious problem, and other areas really didn't have much of a problem at all.  If this had been laid out in 2009 and folks had a way of grasping this.....I doubt that the national focus would have been very successful.  There's a problem here.....but it's a regional problem at best.