Health care. Mine is taken care of, why should I care about you?

My uncle forwarded me an e-mail claiming that the Obama health care reform legislation will secretly bring about a 3.8% tax on sale of all houses, starting next year, in 2013. The thing that this misses is that the 3.8% tax only applies to home sales profits that are in excess of $250,000 or 500,000 in the case of married filers.  I’ve never made $250,000 profit on reselling a house, but I suppose you might have.  Still, the base price of the house plus $250,000 is not taxable under this law, nor are expenses that would directly impact the profit line.  Here is a link to an explanation that seems fairly complete.

In other words, it’s a long term capital gains tax, and doesn’t have any impact at all on somebody like me, whose house is only worth $300,000 and has only appreciated by 50% since I bought it. Even if it had doubled in cost, and I had to pay tax on the profits in excess of $250,000, then I’d be paying 3.8% of $50,000 minus my expenses in owning the home and depreciated value over the last ten years.  If I wanted to ignore total expenses on the home over the last ten years, and pretend there was no depreciation, and paid the full amount of the tax, it would come out to $1750.00 on my house if sold at $400K, which is about $100k more than it is worth.

http://www.kcmblog.com/2011/01/26/7074/

Yes, I am willing to see my taxes go up some in order to bring about universal health care. I honestly believe that if we don’t bite the bullet and make health care available to all citizens now, the costs will continue to skyrocket until the 44 million of us with no health care insurance, and the 38 million of us with inadequate health care insurance, which brings us to almost a third of all US citizens who are financially unable to weather the storm of a major medical emergency, will be joined by basically everybody who isn’t actively employed by a major corporation, the government, or a land-grant university. This info below is ©2000.

http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/uninsured.html

Numbers continue to get worse.  In 2011, the uninsured went up to 49.9 Million.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/13/news/economy/census_bureau_health_insurance/index.htm

Universal health care isn’t pie in the sky, it exists in many first world countries, and has been tested thoroughly in the last 50 years.  Switzerland may have the best plan, and it’s privately funded by each person.  But that required, and requires, complex regulatory control and cost controls.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/02/15/to-see-the-health-costs-in-front-of-ones-nose-is-a-constant-struggle

The Swiss method is impossible in the U.S. because it would be implacably fought, regardless of proven success, by both sides of our very skinny political spectrum. Liberals would hate it because it isn’t friendly to the uneducated or the addicted spend-thrift, conservatives would hate it because it should somehow magically self regulate, and still cover everybody. Well, conservatives generally seem to feel that it just won’t be available to everybody, and that it shouldn’t be.  From a certain conservative perspective, if you can’t afford a health care plan and you get sick, you should accept your mortal fate, and get the dying over with.

I have friends now who are paying $1800.00 per month for their family of four to have health insurance, since the wife has a minor, non-life threatening, preexisting condition.  I know a good, multiply published, writer who is only alive today because she had major surgery on charity, about a month ago.  We aren’t taking care of the poorest 30% of us, and we’re putting that group into the reality that if they do get sick, they lose their homes, jobs, and generally whatever health insurance they do have.  Americans die in the tens of thousands every year because they can’t afford health care, and can’t find somebody charitable enough to front the bill.

http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/deaths-rising-due-to-lack-of-insurance-study-finds

An average waitress in the U.S. makes $20,380 per year.  She can’t afford to have a family or a health care plan.  She almost certainly works two or more jobs, or her boss would be forced to pay her a benefits package, and restaurants just can’t do that for most of their people.

http://www.myplan.com/careers/waiters-and-waitresses/summary-35-3031.00.html

What I’m saying is that regardless of political convictions, millions of Americans cannot get health care packages because Obamacare was castrated before it began, and that most of those millions, if they do suffer catastrophic illness, will die.  26,000 people in that category die early every year, and the vast majority of them are productive, employed citizens until they have the bad taste to contract a major illness.  We could do something, we can afford it, but a lot of Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that it would be the end of America if we actually fixed the clearly broken and getting worse health care system. Obamacare is a start, which the Republicans flatly refused to make. But Obamacare will never actually accomplish the goal if it isn’t improved.  Dropping Obamacare is going back to square one for 16.8% of us.  Fixing Obamacare, even if it requires a complete overhaul, is the best way to go.  Don’t back down.

Bill

The loneliness of the long-distance panda

The “Loneliness of the Long-distance Panda”, written by my friend Jacey Bedford, is in the current Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. It’s a quirky piece and I had a lot of fun reading it. It’s available here. It isn’t a long tale, and I can’t think of a way to review it without giving away spoilers that you would not thank me for. Suffice it to say that it’s extraordinarily well written, fun in a dark way, and will be over much to soon. Takes about five minutes to read – longer to think about.

Scrapping the national safety net

I’m proud to announce that seeing this picture brought tears to my eyes. I was so touched that I went back online to see if I could track down the story. Apparently, it’s true.

The gentleman whose grave is so righteously decorated was a part of the Greatest Generation. That generation brought in and supported social security, national welfare programs, and the first federal intervention through business subsidies to ameliorate the catastrophic economic collapse that was in progress during the 1930s.

Right now, there is a big political fracas brewing about cutting welfare, social security, and any other obvious government programs. Those programs were used to set our nation back on its feet after an entirely laissez faire economic meltdown led to mass starvation in this country.

A lot of people want to deny that Americans were dying of malnutrition during the great depression. When I went to high school in the 1970s, I had teachers that remembered classmates in their U.S. elementary schools who had quit coming to class because they STARVED TO DEATH. Yes, Americans starved to death in the 1930s because their local charities and local governments and local social organizations fell down — because the local folks were all poor. It’s just that some of them were a little poorer than others. We want to deny that today, but my teachers in the 1970s still remembered their dead friends. American friends. If we follow down this line of “reducing government” far enough, and if this stupid economic meltdown continues to stretch the difference between the richest and the poorest of us, we’ll start to see starvation deaths again.

I’m agin it.

Batshit Crazy, or The Odd Things People Want to Believe.

OK, the climatologist conspiracy theory is as batshit crazy as the one about Elvis and JFK languishing in a cell in area 51. To begin with, there would be more money available to resolve the controversy than there is to support a commonly accepted scenario. The problem is that only a very few real climatologists have found valid reason to disagree with the common theory that AGW is occurring. Anthony Watts has certainly found a way to turn the “controversy” to a profit. All he has to do is throw out smoke bombs and ignore all the evidence that makes his www.WUWT.com site look silly. Watts up with the climategate note that he leaves posted about Michael Mann being investigated by Penn State? Michael Mann was cleared when his numbers turned out to be valid, and his email scandal turned out to be a case of malicious misquoting. I’m not going to go on, because there are very intelligent people who want to swallow Watt’s tripe – but it’s still raw, green, and very old, tripe.

But it goes on. I recently spoke with a real live scientist who is convinced that Janet Reno and some ATF officers held the FBI at gunpoint while they allowed the Branch Davidian compound to burn to the ground, murdering 76 people. Think about this. Janet Reno was a political appointee who wasn’t well liked. Almost all law enforcement people are Republican, and have been for a while. What are the odds that a bunch of people who didn’t like an appointee would stand around and let her burn women and children alive, to cover up some supposed bad investigative work? They’d have happily thrown her to the ground and hand-cuffed her while they rescued those kids, then taken her off to file charges. That’s what people like that do when faced with criminal conspiracy. Further, It would have been a huge black-eye for the Democratic administration, and an equally huge coup for the justice community. More to the point, we’re talking about a really large group of people who’ve spent their lives pushing back the darkness. The suggestion that you could get a group of heroes like that to throw away their morals to please one horsefaced old political appointee just pisses me off.

Both of these situations, especially the Branch Davidian fiasco, were exhaustively investigated, and it turned out that people of good heart and conscience had acted correctly. Watts up with That?

Elvis’s cell in Area 51 next to JFK, Marilyn Monroe, or Paul the alien? Inquiring minds want to know.