Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

64 responses to “Weekly Open Thread (2013-11-25)”

  1. whatsmyname

    By Scotsman @ 72: RE: whatsmyname @ 70 –

    – You write well, you have some vocabulary, but your brain is stuck on canned talking points and further constrained by an apparent disinterest in dealing with facts as opposed to propaganda. Take fifteen minutes to listen to this if you haven’t already. It offers some limited insight to the real problems with healthcare, all of which are the result of government meddling and market distortions. I’m sure it will be eye opening for many:

    http://market-ticker.org/cgi-ticker/akcs-www?post=211323

    This from the guy who must have graced SB with the phrase “kicking the can down the road” 100 times over the past 6 years.

    Well, I did take fifteen minutes to listen to your video. Then I took another ten so that I could finish it, (I didn’t bother listening to David Stockman a second time). There was some good stuff there. My first response was a question: This is Scotsman’s idea of the best system in the world?

    Let’s look at some particulars:

    Minutes 9 and 10 discuss how both “nonprofit” hospitals and insurance companies are incented to charge ridiculously high prices to create false losses and receive claims repricing payments respectively. I was already familiar with the nonprofit issue. This isn’t regulatory overreach. This is bad law though, and shows need for change quite independent of choice of systemic payment.

    The anecdote about the two doses of $100 Mexican Scorpion medicine turning to $80,000 screams for more regulation. Kind of like usury which also needs to be brought back under control.

    The medical tourism from Canada for joint work is entirely believable, and addresses the fact that some people can and will want better than basic, and any basic medical system will have budgetary constraints, and should prioritize more life threatening issues over less threatening issues. It is an interesting parallel to Americans getting medical and dental work in Mexico. I support the idea of independent providers such as this doctor for that better service for those who want it and can afford it. I’m not a communist, you know.

    Although this doctor worries about Obamacare, he does not take insurance patients already, and shouldn’t really be affected. I will say that this is the first time I have heard an Obamacare opponent complain about the costs of Romneycare. Kudos there.

    Lets now leave the show and deal with a fact that a lot of people seem disinterested in. If we are honest, we all know that the “good” insurance we get (yes, I get it too), and the rates we pay are based on an inconstant employer mandated system that gets those sickies and poor folks out of the potential payment stream to the best of our ability. It’s structural, it’s purposeful. It puts tens of millions at risk, ruins hundreds of thousands, (maybe millions), and likely kills thousands so that you and I can save $50 or $100 per month. That is not an attribute of a great nation.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  2. redmondjp

    Ergh, thread topic spillover again!

    Let’s instead discuss how today’s tightly-sealed homes affect one’s health: indoor air pollution, humidity buildup, mold, and so on.

    How about fireplaces and wood stoves? With the county-wide burn ban in place today, how many of your neighbors are still burning wood? I have one neighbor who completely ignores the burn ban (his primary source of heat is baseboard electric so from an economic standpoint I can see why), and also burns a mix of scrap wood including some painted and pressure-treated pieces . . .

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  3. softwarengineer

    Boeing Wants to Build the 777 Anywhere but Everrett

    http://finance.yahoo.com/video/boeing-solicits-bid-777-production-183900443.html

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  4. softwarengineer

    RE: redmondjp @ 2

    Break the Seal Open or Sufffocate

    My tightly sealed home installed breathers all over the house, they’re basically a 3″ hole in the wall with a carbon filter…a string to open or close ‘em….I leave mine open all the time.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  5. softwarengineer

    Stagflation is the Current Condition in Seattle

    That’s worse than the Great Depression, at least the GD’s underemployment had lower prices to salve it.

    “…Inflation
    The second camp belongs to those who see inflation, not only potentially in the future, but currently hurting consumers. The CPI, as produced by the BLS, just isn’t realistic for most Americans. In the Oct. 12 issue of Barron’s, commodity guru Jim Rogers opined, “The price of nearly everything is going up. We have inflation in India, China, Norway, Australia — everywhere but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’m telling you they’re lying.”
    In some of his recent daily blog posts, economist David Rosenberg (Gluskin-Sheff) indicated that if the rapid increase in home and auto prices over the past year were used directly in the CPI instead of the massaged data that is used, today’s CPI would be north of 4% instead of the 1.5% that BLS publishes….”

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/12123421/1/stagflation-debt-grows-gdp-slows.html?puc=yahoo&cm_ven=YAHOO

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  6. Blurtman

    RE: redmondjp @ 2 – My neighbor is today. He is the worst polluter in the neighborhood. A lot of homes with fireplaces have what appears to be some sort of silver top to their chimneys. I can only guess that it helps filter the discharge. Not this fellow. And old style belching chimney. I hesitate to address the issue with him as I don’t want to start a war, but wood smoke is a health hazard. I am thinking of printing out some information and knocking on his door and chatting him up, assuming that he is unaware. I will have my Brooks Ghost 6′s on, just in case.

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  7. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 6 – The silver top is likely just a rain cap. It keeps moisture from getting into your chimney.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. softwarengineer

    RE: Blurtman @ 6RE: Blurtman @ 6

    We’ve Got a Stage 2 Burn Ban Today in King County

    http://www.pscleanair.org/airq/status.aspx

    You could make a copy of this website document and “secretly” paste to your neigbor’s door…..I’m sure the $1000 fine will wake him up…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  9. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 7 – Thanks for the info. I have a gas fireplace which we do not use at all.

    So what does account for the difference in pollution discharge from one home to the next? Homes in a nearby newer development that my dog walks me through have wood burning fireplaces but you can barely pick up a whiff of smoke, even walking very close to these homes which have postage stamp front yards. The polluting home in my neighborhood is at the end of a very long driveway, a good distance from the street, and yet I come home smelling like a smoked ham when he is burning, and his stench stretches for about a block.

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  10. Scotsman

    RE: Blurtman @ 9

    Certified woodstoves often now have catalytic converters- just like your car. Most wood fires burn in the 5-700 degree range when fully engulfed. As the smoke passes through the converters it gets burned at temps up to 1700 degrees leaving nothing but clear gases and water vapor. Some non-converter stoves can achieve the same levels of cleanliness but they require refractory burn chambers and air injection. either by draft or fan powered. They seem to have a minimum effective size though, and that size is often too large for an average home. We use wood for heat with a propane hydronic back-up. The wood saves a couple grand a year and keeps me busy. Plus it’s a lot of fun feeling semi-independent. When the big event comes and the grid goes down at least I’ll be warm.

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  11. Scotsman
  12. Blurtman

    RE: Scotsman @ 10 – Sounds logical. The turbo stove. What about fireplaces?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  13. whatsmyname

    RE: Scotsman @ 11
    I took 25 minutes of my time to listen to your advertisement. Your video doesn’t do what you say it does. I responded to five specific issues from the video, and why four of them don’t do what you say, plus added one point of my own.

    Your response is a convoluted paragraph of generalized, unsupported, uncomprehending claptrap followed by hackneyed ad hominum. You have not responded to a single point from my post. You might be less angry if you were able take what you’ve learned from this video, reformulate and defend it in the context of a conversational challenge.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  14. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 13

    Your response is a convoluted paragraph of generalized, unsupported, uncomprehending claptrap followed by hackneyed ad hominum (sic). You have not responded to a single point from my post. You might be less angry if you were able take what you’ve learned from this video, reformulate and defend it in the context of a conversational challenge. Right back atcha!

    Mt final comment. Continue thinking as you do. I need only offer up two points to condem further government involvement in American healthcare. The first is the discussion in the video of how distorted and nonsensical current hospital pricing structures and incentives have become under current government practices. The second is the abject failure and display of total incompetence evidenced by the rollout and introduction of Obamacare. If you think more of this sort government control is going to lead to improved coverage and outcomes I’m not going to change your mind. Remember Jim Jones- Koolaid kills.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  15. Scotsman

    What a soul-less lot. Yes, please be sure to use your Thanksgiving to badger relatives into signing up for Obamacare. Love the retort at the end.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2013/11/25/ofa-be-sure-to-use-your-thanksgiving-family-gathering-to-convince-relatives-to-buy-a-plan-on-the-obamacare-exchange/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  16. Scotsman

    RE: Blurtman @ 12

    The challenge is most don’t burn hot enough to burn completely clean. An open fireplace will never make the EPA grade. For fun google “rocket stoves” for a non-catalytic high efficiency burner with multiple uses.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  17. Azucar

    RE: Scotsman @ 16

    I was going to mention those… I’ve been checking them out on youtube and elsewhere on the ‘net and they look pretty cool… er HOT, actually. When the zombie apocalypse (or other EOTWAWKI) hits I’ll build one of those into my cave/shelter… with the exhaust/chimney running through a bench full of COB (heat absorbing material) that the family will sleep on to keep warm in the icy winter.

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  18. whatsmyname

    By Scotsman @ 14:RE: whatsmyname @ 13

    Your response is a convoluted paragraph of generalized, unsupported, uncomprehending claptrap followed by hackneyed ad hominum (sic). You have not responded to a single point from my post. You might be less angry if you were able take what you�ve learned from this video, reformulate and defend it in the context of a conversational challenge. Right back atcha!

    If you could parrot sections of that video like you parrot me, you might at least fake something the inattentive might misperceive as an argument.

    final comment. Continue thinking as you do. I need only offer up two points to condem further government involvement in American healthcare. The first is the discussion in the video of how distorted and nonsensical current hospital pricing structures and incentives have become under current government practices. The second is the abject failure and display of total incompetence evidenced by the rollout and introduction of Obamacare. If you think more of this sort government control is going to lead to improved coverage and outcomes I’m not going to change your mind. Remember Jim Jones- Koolaid kills.

    If something bad happens, and there is a government, then it’s the governments fault? (And therefore, she’s made of wood; er, I mean we need less government?) Sometimes government sins are from omission, not just commission. Do you have an inkling of a clue how these nonsensical hospital prices occur under “current government practices”? Nonprofits can’t be extremely profitable and retain nonprofit status. Is that tyranny (tea-rany?) in your world? Per your doctor, those hospital prices are about generating losses via fake uncollectables, so this would be an accounting issue, not a government interference issue. And frankly, that’s one person’s view. An accounting 101 student would say losses come from expenses exceeding revenues – not a failure to collect ginned up excess revenues. So he’s identified a very important issue in rapacious pricing by “nonprofits”. He hasn’t proved what causes it; he hasn’t even articulated what specific government interference causes this and must be reversed. Here you are foaming because this mistily resonates with your prejudice. We don’t all rollover because you’ve got a hair trigger on your bias confirmation.

    That is one of six points I brought up to discuss. I tried to highlight that I had put some time and thought into your evidence. Evidently, it turns out, more than you.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  19. redmondjp

    To sum up this thread thus far: Our existing healthcare system sucks, Obamacare sucks even worse, and breathing toxic wood smoke will eventually kill you, regardless of healthcare system.

    The end.

    We have a thread for the healthcare discussion, somewhere . . . no point in discussing it any longer here – besides, it’s too late for that. Supreme court even said so. Let’s all go on the roller coaster ride together, and after the ride, we can all talk about whether we liked it or not. Will the ride ends before the next election? Stay tuned!

    Here’s a timely, parting healthcare tip: cook your turkey until all the germs inside it are dead. Bonus points if you kill all of the germs in the stuffing too.

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  20. Kary L. Krismer

    On the fireplace issue, at our old house we removed the stone/brick wood-burning fireplace. A full bath in the master bedroom area was more important than a fireplace we never used.

    Our current house has a gas insert in the wood-burning fireplace, and we use that a lot. No hassles finding wood, no hassles starting a fire, no over-heating the house (it has a thermostat) and no mess. Sure the ambiance isn’t quite as nice, but the cat doesn’t notice.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  21. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 20
    I’ve got the Rich’s Stove With Cooking Top

    Runs on propane and doesn’t need electricty on the gas furnace heat outflow to keep it from over-heating. IOWs, I’ve got heat and a stove to cook on indoors when the electricty goes out.

    CON: Its pilot light alone gobbles like $30/mo propane if left on….I turn it off and bleed the system if I need to turn it back on.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  22. Saulac

    Seattle Area PE (PR) Ratio
    I have been wondering how active are the big insitution investors in Seattle market…TIL that Invitaion Homes is the sub of Backstone and is present in local market. Love to hear what people think about their rent. On a bigger picture, wonder if the Tim can pull together a PR ratio analysis on these properties. Are they making money renting? Does the rent justify the price?….
    http://www.invitationhomes.com/market/seattle-wa/

    From what I see, the rental bussiness is not as lucative as these firms try to tell people. And they are trying to off loading these “investment” to the small guys. Would you buy these their stocksrental backed securities?
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/26-5

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  23. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 18

    ” so this would be an accounting issue, not a government interference issue.”

    Give me a break. Who sets accounting standards and tax policy? The government. The funky pricing is contrived to provide the loss the government mandates as a requirement for continued tax free status, not the other way around.

    We can try this discussion again in a year when your employer provided plan has been canceled, replaced by a small raise and an invitation to “check out the ACA website.” Hopefully it will be working by then. Good luck.

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  24. whatsmyname

    By Scotsman @ 23:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 18

    ” so this would be an accounting issue, not a government interference issue.”

    Give me a break. Who sets accounting standards and tax policy? The government.

    Accounting standard are set by FASB, a private organization. As for tax policy; Do you have a plan for tax policy to be set by someone other than the government? Neither of these issues is affected pro or con by Obamacare.

    funky pricing is contrived to provide the loss the government mandates as a requirement for continued tax free status, not the other way around.

    I agree that the funky pricing is contrived (by private players, not the government). Again, do you want to eliminate non-profit status? That’s fine with me, but those rules are quite independent of “healthcare” status. The ACA is neutral to this as well.

    Sorry, RedmondJP. This is not really about healthcare; this is about non sequitors.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  25. softwarengineer

    RE: Scotsman @ 23

    Its a FOX News Story

    So is politically slanted, irrespective, it does reference think tank statistics that can’t be ignored by either political slant, RE: 80 million employee health coverages to be cancelled because of the ACA…

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/26/evidence-shows-obama-administration-predicted-tens-millions-would-lose-plans/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  26. softwarengineer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 25
    Its Also Clear

    As Americans pay 50-100% more for already over-priced health insurance, this $500-1000/mo net income loss will come right out of their potential Seattle real estate loan qualification per month. Or do you put all your losing bets on Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  27. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 26 – It could spread through the entire economy, not just housing. We could even see early results in the form of reduced holiday sales as people get ready to pay more in January. Reduced consumer spending could lead to layoffs (or at least reduced employment) in many industries. The other thing hit will be charities.

    I’ve already cut about $100 from my monthly spending to prepare for the $200 more a month I’m going to have to pay, and I’ve told the wife to be looking for things to cut on her side to pay for her $200 a month. Just think how important they claimed it was to the economy to have people pay $10 a week less in social security taxes. $400 a month is a lot more than $50 a month.

    Obamacare exists only because it is a tax, but the real tax isn’t the one the Supreme Court relied on. It’s the increased insurance cost which isn’t really insurance but instead a scheme to force some people pay for other peoples’ healthcare. If I’m right about this the mid-term elections should be very interesting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  28. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 27
    Yes Kary

    I’m an old fashion liberal, but believe in “livable wages”.

    I ask one simple non-political question:

    Why is healthcare [about 5-10% of the employment in America] grabbing like 1/2 the nation’s money? Family plans like my “Obamacare ready” one costs $20K a year….

    That’s why I volunteer FREE bioengineering to a nursing service company and publish bioengineering articles to reduce nurse and doctor employment needs. Engineers do that, they reduce labor costs. Health insurance costs will reduce as labor costs are butcher axed….there is no other way. BTW, even America’s bioengineering has been outsourced too. Perhaps healthcare elite doesn’t want it in this country? LOL

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  29. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 28 – It’s because Obamacare was written by people who want everything covered. To use an analogy, if they instead required the annual purchase of an automobile, it would have been written by people in the automobile manufacturing industry and everyone would be required to buy a $50,000 SUV.

    My old plan would have covered me for cancer and most other expensive diseases and surgeries, without a lifetime limit, but the powers that be decided that wasn’t good enough. I had to spend $200 a month more for a policy that for the last four years only pays out once a year when I go for a physical. So if that continues, I’ll be paying about $5,500 a year in and only getting maybe $400 a year back out, and the same for the wife.

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  30. Scotsman

    Jay Leno: Obama Told Iran ‘If You Like Your Uranium, You Can Keep Your Uranium’

    Then it turns out Obama lied to us again, and it isn’t really an agreement- yet- after all. Just a potential framework for an agreement.

    Circle the lap dogs!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  31. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 27 – It’s a bit of a conundrum. There are folks in this society who have more drive, more ability and more privilege than others. Conversely there are folks in this society who have less drive, less ability and less privilege than others. For folks who have planned poorly, have bade genes, or have been irresponsible, what is the solution? Even if someone blew all there money on drugs and hookers, and then came down with a potentially fatal illness requiring medical care at great expense, who in our society will say “Too bad. Not my problem?” as they walk over the body on their way to work?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  32. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 24

    This really is my last post about Obamacare here.

    No, the discussion isn’t about “non sequitors” (sic- try “sequitur”). It seems to have shifted to being more about narrow definitions, distraction, and projection. I’ve never so much I never said. But if you have some verbal or debating skill but no effective counter argument that’s your only strategy. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s truly effective. Truth still wins.

    I have a simple argument. Did you know that the firm contracted to do the majority of the coding for the ACA had previously been hired to write a gun tracking program for I believe Massachusetts? And it was such an unworkable failure that two years after supposedly going into effect it was repealed. Unfixable. Kathleen Sebelius also has a long history of failure in the government website arena. But these are the players given control over 1/6 of our economy? No one should be surprised that it failed and is continuing to get worse.

    What’s hard for thinking people to understand is why anyone would look to government and the proven failures it hires (multiple times) to correct and streamline the very system it corrupted, distorted, and broke in the first place. How long would you keep going back to a mechanic that continually screws up your car? Yet that is exactly what you are advocating. Blind loyalty to a party, an idea- government regulated and controlled healthcare- a certain failure, and eventually at great personal cost. Like I said several posts back- keep banging your head on the wall until it feels good.

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/23/lawmakers-sebelius-failed-at-government-website-projects-prior-to-serving-in-obama-administration/

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  33. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 31 – The solution isn’t an insurance policy that covers too much! I’m surprised they let us get by with high deductibles. If they stuck to character everyone would be required to pay $1,200 a month for a policy that lets anyone see any doctor they want at any time for any reason, only paying $10. ;-)

    The problem is they’re trying to adapt an insurance system to cover things that are not really insurance (e.g. signing up for something that pays on your behalf $10,000 a month for the cost of only $200 a month because you had the condition requiring $10,000 a month before you signed up for the $200 a month insurance). That’s really a tax, not insurance.

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  34. Scotsman

    RE: Blurtman @ 31

    Very few, and certainly not me, want to walk “over the bodies.” But those who take no responsibility, make no effort, and still have a choice shouldn’t get the same results as those who bust their butts to try and improve the world and/or their personal and family lives. Those who don’t have a choice- mentally deficient, etc. should fall somewhere in between.

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  35. Blake

    SWE: “Why is healthcare [about 5-10% of the employment in America] grabbing like 1/2 the nation’s money?”

    Actually about 18%… http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1769890
    … see Figure 3. But that is wayyyy too much! It was less than 8% of GDP in the early 70s.

    Kary: “It’s because Obamacare was written by people who want everything covered.’

    Exactly! This monster was created by Congress, in particular it was written by Liz Fowler, VP of the largest health insurer… what would you expect them to create?
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/03/29/baucus-thanks-wellpoint-vp-liz-fowler-for-writing-health-care-bill/

    Our health care system is a huge tax and drain on our economy… But with so much money at stake and so many very wealthy and powerful interests supping at the trough it is almost impossible to change since our political system is so tied to private money.

    And it so funny reading Scotsman and other conservatives write as if the Federal government is some independent entity taking on and “ruining” the corporations… Hah! … haven’t they heard that our government is corrupt and the top government officials are usually on temporary assignment from their corporations?
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-12-07/meet-liz-fowler-architect-obamacare-jumps-ship-johnson-johnson
    http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/1786/the_reverse_revolving_door/
    -snip- “In fact Lew’s contract with Citigroup made explicitly clear that the banker’s eligibility for a special bonus was contingent on his securing a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Critics like Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Weil were astounded by what appeared to be “some sort of a bounty” paid by Citigroup to burrow their executives deep within government. But far from an aberration, such bonuses appear to be fairly common on Capitol Hill.”

    s’Funny… a few years ago I was finding common ground with a teabagger by talking about how corrupt our Congress is. He agreed but when I asked him just what powerful interests he thought were corrupting Congress without hesitation he said “unions!” I asked him if that was so, why was it that the unions were unable to bring their single piece of legislation to vote (“Card Check”) ….much less pass it!? No critical thinking skills I guess… Ideology is powerful.
    Just ask: Why is our government so bad…? Too much democracy I guess!

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  36. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Scotsman @ 34 – And if we do want to do something like that, we should do it through a real tax so that people will clearly know what it’s costing to provide this service, and so that there won’t be the urge some ignorant people have to demand that an insurance company pay for everything, as if the insurance company’s money just magically appears out of nowhere.

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  37. Blurtman

    RE: Scotsman @ 34 – I think that is a defensible position and one which I can be aligned with, but there are folks who believe that access to healthcare is a universal right, regardless of whether you pay for it or not.

    And to Kary’s point, yes, there are folks who believe that they are entitled, and that the money does come from somewhere else.

    One issue is that a lack of entitlements, and the associated hardship and deprivation, can exert downward pressure on one’s behavior, for example, to consume, recreate or procreate. With that pressure removed, then we have an unsupportable drain on the resources produced by the productive. One reason I believe that immigration needs to be controlled is that communities must he able to control the demands on and the allocation of their resources. By the Fed’s abdicating that responsibility, they abandon communities to pick up the bill.

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  38. Macro Investor

    By Blurtman @ 31:

    It’s a bit of a conundrum
    …who in our society will say “Too bad. Not my problem?” as they walk over the body on their way to work?

    Guys — A lot of people are saying “too bad” now, because social welfare has gotten so out of control. There has to be strict means tests, otherwise working people feel cheated by the moochers. Mooching does seem to be WAY OUT OF CONTROL. I’m sure we all personally know folks on disability with minor health issues, or who are perfectly fine. Disability is just one example, because you are supposed to be denied if you can do ANY JOB. A blind cripple answering phones is any job.

    It will be very interesting to see what happens when lots of folks have insurance policies with $3000-6500 deductibles. I don’t think they’ll ever willingly see a doctor. Few people have that kind of money saved. So nothing really changes. If they have a catastrophic illness/injury, they’ll be bankrupt, after getting minimal care and shoved out the door.

    Basically, at the first health issue the entire middle class will be thrown into the medicaid system. Or rather, middle class will be defined as those who still have good employer plans.

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  39. Kary L. Krismer

    By Blurtman @ 36:

    And to Kary’s point, yes, there are folks who believe that they are entitled, and that the money does come from somewhere else.

    I’m actually talking a bit broader than that. You seem to be focused on the individual getting the benefit. I’m focusing more on society as a whole.

    If an insurance company doesn’t agree to pay for an expensive procedure that is of an experimental nature and uncertain to work, the press and politicians will put pressure on the insurance company to pay. That’s all well and good for the person getting the money, but for the rest of us it just means higher insurance rates, and the members of the press and politicians seem totally ignorant of that fact.

    Multiply that type of event thousands of times and apply it to other areas where an insurance company might not have to pay, and you end up with a significant increase in insurance rates. Sometimes it’s justified and sometimes it isn’t, but it happens much more often than is justified.

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  40. Kary L. Krismer

    By Macro Investor @ 37:

    It will be very interesting to see what happens when lots of folks have insurance policies with $3000-6500 deductibles. I don’t think they’ll ever willingly see a doctor. Few people have that kind of money saved. So nothing really changes. If they have a catastrophic illness/injury, they’ll be bankrupt, after getting minimal care and shoved out the door. .

    That’s another of my complaints about Obamacare. Ignoring the value of preventative care, what these policies should cover above that is next to nothing! No frills, but if you incur a $10,000 bill in the emergency room or a $100,000 bill for cancer treatment, they will pay after the deductible. That should be relatively cheap, but they add in things like chiropractic, mental health, etc., and that drives up the cost.

    Also, the little things like contraception are about as stupid as getting dental insurance. Actually, even more stupid. People can generally afford contraceptives, so adding that cost to an insurance policy just adds that cost to an insurance policy, making it even less affordable (and making the cost of contraceptives rise for those still without insurance).

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  41. Blake

    SWE: “Why is healthcare [about 5-10% of the employment in America] grabbing like 1/2 the nation’s money?”

    Actually about 18%… http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1769890
    … see Figure 3. But that is wayyyy too much! It was less than 8% of GDP in the early 70s.

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  42. Blake

    Kary: “It’s because Obamacare was written by people who want everything covered.’

    Exactly! This monster was created by Congress, in particular it was written by Liz Fowler, VP of the largest health insurer… what would you expect them to create?
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/03/29/baucus-thanks-wellpoint-vp-liz-fowler-for-writing-health-care-bill/

    Our health care system is a huge tax and drain on our economy… But with so much money at stake and so many very wealthy and powerful interests supping at the trough it is almost impossible to change since our political system is so tied to private money.

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  43. Blake

    It so funny reading Scotsman and other conservatives write as if the Federal government is some independent entity taking on and “ruining” the corporations… Hah! … haven’t they heard that our government is corrupt and the top government officials are usually on temporary assignment from their corporations?
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-12-07/meet-liz-fowler-architect-obamacare-jumps-ship-johnson-johnson
    http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/1786/the_reverse_revolving_door/
    -snip- “In fact Lew’s contract with Citigroup made explicitly clear that the banker’s eligibility for a special bonus was contingent on his securing a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Critics like Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Weil were astounded by what appeared to be “some sort of a bounty” paid by Citigroup to burrow their executives deep within government. But far from an aberration, such bonuses appear to be fairly common on Capitol Hill.”

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  44. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blake @ 42 – Politicians are also for the most part rather stupid people (e.g. Maria Cantwell). Elections are a popularity contest masquerading as a contest to pick the person best able to do the job. So even without being corrupt, elected politicians are unlikely to do the right thing.

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  45. Macro Investor

    By Blake @ 41:

    … because Obamacare was written by people who want everything covered.

    The individual insurance market has always been a wild west show. The insurance companies used every trick in the book to deny claims and blow off sick people. Or they sold borderline fraudulent plans that took people’s money and covered nothing. O’care may have fixed most of that by setting necessary standards. That’s all I see it doing. When I look at the WA exchange, I see the same stuff that was available to individuals before — at about the same prices/deductibles. But now anybody can buy it and keep it after having an issue.

    The country is obviously going to go broke unless costs are greatly reduced. Medicaid is going to eat up the entire state budget. As someone here already pointed out, the higher premiums (or tax penalty) will slow down the economy and kill jobs. I think we’ll look back 20 years from now and see that O’care was just a small first step — insurance reform, rather than the fix all that politicians market it as. Unfortunately it will take a series of crisis before any meaningful changes are made.

    Buckle up for a rocky ride. We live in a very complicated time.

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  46. Kary L. Krismer

    By Macro Investor @ 44:

    The individual insurance market has always been a wild west show. The insurance companies used every trick in the book to deny claims and blow off sick people. Or they sold borderline fraudulent plans that took people’s money and covered nothing. O’care may have fixed most of that by setting necessary standards. That’s all I see it doing. When I look at the WA exchange, I see the same stuff that was available to individuals before — at about the same prices/deductibles. But now anybody can buy it and keep it after having an issue..

    Last point first–you must be looking at a different site than I have access to, because the deductibles are not the same and the cost is much higher. The latter though would depend on age, but one thing Obamacare was supposed to do was make it so older people paid less, relative to younger people, so I should gain from that but didn’t. But the same was true of women relative to men, so I’d lose out there. Bottom line is risk is no longer a factor in what you pay for “insurance.”

    Also, I think the low end plans are a myth invented by those trying to defend Obamacare, or at least they are in Washington state. We’ve had minimum levels of coverage for some time. Same with kicking people off for getting sick, and there have even been a ton of wholes in the pre-existing coverage exception for several years.

    But I agree with your overall point. This is just the first step and the next steps will be the result of one or more crisis occurring. People who are not healthy when those events occur will be screwed, similar to how people retiring in 2008 were screwed by the housing crisis. Timing is everything! Plan your cancer diagnosis now!

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  47. Scotsman

    RE: Blake @ 42 -

    “Scotsman and other conservatives write as if the Federal government is some independent entity taking on and “ruining” the corporations…”

    There you go again. Lies. Show me and everyone else where I said or implied the above. Or do you have trouble reading? Just the comprehension part? Life is hard. We won’t even talk about math.

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  48. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 39 – I don’t believe Medicare/Medicaid and the private insurers who take their lead from federal reimbursement guidelines pay for experimental procedures and therapies. Individuals who do not respond to approved drugs would like insurers to pay for these experimental therapies, but typically the manufacturer has to obtain a reimbursement authorization and code from the USG. Private insurers typically follow that lead, and pay for it as well. In academic Phase 1 studies, the costs of treating the patients come from grants, for example. The patient cannot be charged, even if paying out of pocket. In company sponsored clinical studies, it is the company that funds the study. The goal for the company is to obtain market clearance typically upon submission of the results of a Phase III study, which is no guarantee of Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement if the drug is cleared to market. Reimbursement has to be applied for separately.

    One real issue that is driving up insurance costs is the approval of me-to drugs that are no more effective than lower cost generics. Pharma marketing and sales arms plus “kick-backs” convince the medicos to prescribe these more costly drugs. In order to be allowed to command a higher price than generics, pharmas should be made to prove increased efficacy or other benefit.

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  49. Macro Investor

    By Blurtman @ 48:

    One real issue that is driving up insurance costs is the approval of me-to drugs that are no more effective than lower cost generics.

    True, but that seems to be a rather small part of it. You can always get your meds in Canada or Mexico, law be d*mned.

    How does it cost $300-400 to see a doctor for 10 minutes? And how does it cost $20,000 per week for a tiny hospital room, when a swanky hotel suite would be 1/3 of that? The only explanation that makes sense is price gouging. Eventually, I think most people will view doctors and hospitals with the same disdain as the creep who tries to sell water for $100/gallon in an emergency. In both cases, the “entrepreneur” is withholding a necessary service for someone who is in dire need.

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  50. whatsmyname

    By Scotsman @ 32:

    Scotty, how do you pack so many errors into such a compact space? The discussion goes like this:

    You think this video proves the government has screwed up things because your video doctor claims people are exploiting accounting conventions for dubious purposes – Wrong.
    Then you think you’re not wrong because the government controls accounting – Wrong.
    That’s not narrowing definitions; that’s discovering nested false assumptions.

    Now you assert the current administration’s hirelings poor performance as proof that the previous administrations screwed up and that any administration is incapable. Well, OK, that is a distraction – but also a non sequitur. (BTW, thanks for the spelling tips. My dad always said that everybody is good at something).

    Your mechanic analogy shows why analogy is considered the poorest form of argument. A closer analogy (If you must have one) would be to suggest that your former mechanic screwed up, and you feel that your current mechanic is screwing up, so you will never take your car to a mechanic again. You fail to differentiate between the general and the specific. And you are essentially arguing anarchy. Can you trust these screw-ups with defense? Time to get the government out of the military?

    Debate is about marshaling facts and method (logic) into an argument. It is not witchcraft or trickery except to those who lack facts and method. This is why I will not delude myself into thinking I could talk you out of your emotional Big T Truth. You show yourself to be not merely uninformed, but uninformable too.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING :)

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  51. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 50

    “Now you assert the current administration’s hirelings poor performance as proof that the previous administrations screwed up ”

    Um, no- never said that. Never implied that. Never said anything about prior administrations, period. I guess when you can’t successfully refute an argument plan “B” is to just make sh#t up and type out a lot of smooth sounding verbiage. Just because one can string a couple of sentences together doesn’t mean he/she has a logically sound argument.

    If you have kids I sure hope you’re teaching them more than bs skills. The future isn’t going to be like the ’80s and ’90s when anybody with a heartbeat could make a living and get by. It’s going to take reality based skills and measurable performance to get ahead. Even if you’re just pulling shots at Starbucks.

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  52. Scotsman

    Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with good food, greater company, and lots of love!

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  53. Kary L. Krismer

    By Macro Investor @ 49:

    How does it cost $300-400 to see a doctor for 10 minutes? And how does it cost $20,000 per week for a tiny hospital room, when a swanky hotel suite would be 1/3 of that? The only explanation that makes sense is price gouging..

    I wouldn’t use those as examples–not exactly.

    I just had something cut off my lip last week. The procedure itself (after the examination), cost just over $300 and ignoring the time for the local to take effect was over before the song “Aqualung” I was listening to was over. But since my income is obviously based on my incredible beauty, I thought that $300 was a bargain. ;) (Seriously, I do appreciate the lack of any significant pain after the procedure.) Anyway, the ability to do skillful surgery is worth paying for, and something I did pay for since I have a high deductible.

    The hospital room though is another example, not of price gouging, but of the effect of insurance. Rooms now seem to be mainly single occupancy. I remember when you had to pay extra for that. But with most everyone in the hospital having insurance now, no one cares what the room costs. You’ll be through your maximum out of pocket within a day or two in any event, so why not get a private room? And when you’re competing with others who also don’t care what the room costs, expect it to cost a lot!

    The other example I would give though is if you go to the Mason Clinic downtown, and the doctor gives you a shot, expect to pay $90 for the examination room. But for the shot the room would be free (as it would be if you went to one of their clinics not attached to the hospital by a skybridge). That type of pricing wouldn’t exist but for insurance. And the shot itself wouldn’t cost you another $100 or so, but for insurance.

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  54. Kary L. Krismer

    I see Berkshire Hathaway has been converting the Prudential name they purchased to Berkshire Hathaway. Seems like an incredible waste of money for signs and such, and also odd to flush whatever goodwill the Prudential name had down the toilet. Not sure, however, of the structure of that purchase. Presumably it made more sense than the Realogy leveraged buyout from around 2007 or so.

    I just have a hard time assigning value to something where the entire value of the company is based on inertia–agents not leaving to go to another company. On the other hand, if you want to get into the business, it’s a lot easier with some presence than no presence.

    Still, I wonder who is paying for all the new signs. Agents? The local firm? The parent company?

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  55. whatsmyname

    By Scotsman @ 51:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 50

    Um, no- never said that. Never implied that. Never said anything about prior administrations, period. I guess when you can’t successfully refute an argument plan “B” is to just make sh#t up

    “I post a video that does a pretty good job of illustrating all the distortions and monopolistic cronyism our government has injected into the healthcare market” – Scotsman @ 11

    “The first is the discussion in the video of how distorted and nonsensical current hospital pricing structures and incentives have become under current government practices.” -Scotsman @ 14

    “What’s hard for thinking people to understand is why anyone would look to government and the proven failures it hires (multiple times) to correct and streamline the very system it corrupted, distorted, and broke in the first place.” -Scotsman @ 32

    Scotty, Your video evidence and multiple posts strongly center on problems existing well before Obama came to office. Unless Obama has a time machine, he can’t hire to fix what was corrupted, distorted and broke before he got there, and still be the creator of those corruptions, distortions….

    A thinking person of the non superficial persuasion would have to conclude that the results of previous government administrations are key to your case, since you put them right here in front of our face. So, Yes you did; Yes you did; Yes you did.

    I guess your plan B is to ignore the dozen strongest points through the thread, and try to make BS hay out of what you perceive to be the weakest. You should be more careful in your selection. Perhaps I assume too much. Is your silence on the other many points simply your tacit agreement?

    Here’s a Thanksgiving question for you: Do you consider yourself to be more of a noisy gong, or more of a clanging cymbal?

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  56. Kary L. KRISMER

    RE: whatsmyname @ 55 – You need to go back decades, not just a couple of administrations, to start the period when government started messing up health care. The biggest mistake was making employer-provided health care insurance non-taxable.

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  57. whatsmyname

    RE: Kary L. KRISMER @ 56

    I agree.

    But I do it with some hesitation, as, (with the exception of the last paragraph of the first post), my posts here are not about healthcare, but about Scotsman’s factual and logical errors. I don’t want to get too may things going in one place.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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  58. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 55

    Read this again:

    ” assert the current administration’s hirelings poor performance as proof that the previous administrations screwed up.”

    First of all it doesn’t even make sense on it’s own, and it’s certainly not something I ever said or suggested. There’s no connection between the current administrations poor performance at a specific job- launching Obamacare- and previous administrations’ failures.

    Has healthcare been less than optimal for a long time? Yes, but that’s not what we were talking about, was it? If you want to have a conversation about a complex subject you need to learn to use the language with precision. If you just want to throw a bunch of mud up on the wall and think yourself erudite, keep it up. But remember you’re losing the original and still central argument: Government screwed healthcare up, and government doesn’t have the ability or competence to fix it through micro-management and/or increasingly complex private/public partnerships. It should open the markets, increase competition on a national level, and then work out a method to pick up those who fall through the cracks at the new lower costs.

    I’m looking forward to the end result of this fiasco being the end of progressivism as we know it. One couldn’t dream of a larger, more universally painful and personal government failure. Gonna be a lot more red on that electoral map soon!

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  59. whatsmyname

    RE: Scotsman @ 58
    Scotty; it doesn’t make sense, but it is what you asserted.

    And yes, the existing system is what we were discussing in every previous post. Here’s an example from your one post (to me) that I already haven’t cited in this regard:
    “Give me a break. Who sets accounting standards and tax policy? The government.”

    What you are telling me now is that your response to this conversation was to sneakily change the subject, and claim that to be the subject all along (which I missed before, but I now can see).

    I am happy that your Thanksgiving can be filled with visions of the Red State dominance that government healthcare insurance will create. Do you think we can get a red as Northern Europe, or will it take a more fully socialist system to get us there?

    Is it stressful to leave so many individual hanging chads of defeat out there, or can you simply tune them out as you do with other discomforting information?

    Happy day to my favorite turkey.

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  60. Scotsman

    RE: whatsmyname @ 59

    “” …assert the current administration’s hirelings poor performance as proof that the previous administrations screwed up.”

    “Scotty; it doesn’t make sense, but it is what you asserted”

    OK- now we’re getting somewhere- you admit what you wrote doesn’t make sense. All we need to do is have you admit I never asserted it- you just pulled it out of some turkey. But you felt like you were accomplishing something, and in the current liberal reality that’s all that counts! You get an “A”. Puuuuuurfect.

    Set your Obama supplied ACA talking points aside and have a great, peaceful, Thanksgiving with family and friends.

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  61. whatsmyname

    RE: Scotsman @ 60

    “I have a simple argument. Did you know that the firm contracted to do the majority of the coding for the ACA had previously been hired to write a gun tracking program for I believe Massachusetts? And it was such an unworkable failure that two years after supposedly going into effect it was repealed. Unfixable. Kathleen Sebelius also has a long history of failure in the government website arena. But these are the players given control over 1/6 of our economy? No one should be surprised that it failed and is continuing to get worse.

    What’s hard for thinking people to understand is why anyone would look to government and the proven failures it hires (multiple times) to correct and streamline the very system it corrupted, distorted, and broke in the first place.”

    Your words, unedited, and in context. Perhaps you can frame this as an argument that isn’t using O hirelings as the basis for the government causing the problems of US healthcare (which conscious people and your video doc know were pre-existing), and does make sense?

    Let’s play holiday wheel of fortune; you can buy a vowel for the win.

    The following are not matters of opinion, but rather they are fact_ally _ntr_e.

    “Mt final comment.” – Scotsman @14
    “Who sets accounting standards and tax policy? The government.” -Scotsman @ 23
    “This really is my last post about Obamacare here.”- Scotsman @ 32
    “Never said anything about prior administrations, period.”- Scotsman @ 54
    “Yes, but that’s not what we were talking about, was it”- Scotsman @ 58

    We had a great politics-free dinner by the way. I hope you did too.

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  62. Erik

    -Ira
    I met my 5 comment limit on the other conversation. Yes, the gig in charleston will start right away if I get it.

    I already met my 2 year capitals gains tax avoidance criteria this month for my condo. Plan to close next month if everything goes according to plan. I will give you more detail after it actually closes, but I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  63. Kary L. Krismer

    Per this Ken Harney article, states with non-judicial foreclosure recovered faster than states using exclusively judicial foreclosure.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/prompt-foreclosures-may-spur-recovery-of-housing-prices-overall–appraisal-firm-finds/2013/11/26/0ebce15a-55f5-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  64. Blurtman

    Obama, the racist.

    “As I was getting a tour of DreamWorks, I didn’t ask, but just looking at faces, I could tell there were some folks who are here not because they were born here, but because they want to be here and they bring extraordinary talents to the United States.

    http://www.ironicsurrealism.com/2013/11/27/racial-profiler-in-chief-obama-i-can-tell-who-is-an-immigrant-just-by-looking-at-faces/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

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