Friday, January 31, 2014

State Legislators Hide Economic Problems : Reelection Motivation

Given 'we the people' have some common sense when we enter the voting booth, one has to still wonder how some legislators get reelected or elected for the first time but never deliver on their promises to "fix" government? And when the disaster continues from year to year and nothing happens, one would also think the general public would notice, right?

It's only when disaster is about befall the electret that they wake up from their self induced sleep walking and wonder how it got so bad. Go Figure.

State Budget Gimmicks
Source: Joe Luppino-Esposito, "The Worst State Budget Gimmicks of 2013," State Budget Solutions, January 3, 2014.

January 29, 2014

States use budget gimmicks to hide the true cost of government spending, says State Budget Solutions.

Researchers examined 2013 budgets for the 50 states and found some of the best "tricks" used by legislators to hide actual costs. Some of the most popular include underfunding pensions, inflating revenue projections, shifting funds and using one-time asset sales.
  • California has a "surplus" due solely to budget gimmicks that ignore the state's debt. The state is not making required payments into its pension fund in order to claim to have a balanced budget.
  • Moving money from one fund to another is a common tool. Texas has collected money for its 911 emergency system but is not spending it. By not spending the money but still counting it toward the budget, the budget appears more balanced.
  • Connecticut's governor has a plan to borrow $10 million to pay this year's installment in a $100 million, 10-year stem cell initiative. The $10 million that it "saves" from borrowing will then be deposited into the state's general fund toward the state's deficit.
States have learned ways to mask spending and create what looks like a balanced budget. By selling assets, for example, a budget cap may close for that year, but state expenditures continue -- resulting only in larger deficits. Similarly, lawmakers routinely make unjustified assumptions that lead to higher projected revenues and savings. And reallocating funds from one agency to another is often advertised as a spending cut, when it is actually just a shifting of funds.
 

Medicaid Recipents Still Use Emcergency Rooms : ER Use Increasing

Why would a person that is used to having immediate care from an emergency room think they will be better off having to call a doctors office, make an appointment and then have to wait for days to get care when all they have to do now is walk in and be care for immediately? recipients

Will Expanding Health Insurance Strain Emergency Rooms?
Source: Raymond Fisman, "Straining Emergency Rooms by Expanding Health Insurance," Science Magazine, January 17, 2014.

January 29, 2014

Americans can expect an increase in traffic to emergency rooms as insurance coverage increases, says Raymond Fisman, a professor at Columbia University Business School.
  • Those in favor of universal health coverage frequently cite the use of emergency room care as an example of why Americans need universal health coverage.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the American health care system "has forced too many uninsured Americans to depend on the emergency room for the care they need."
The idea is that by insuring more people, the newly insured will no longer flood emergency rooms for care. So why would emergency room traffic actually increase with the rise in health care coverage?
  • Fisman bases his conclusions on a new study that examined a health insurance experiment in Portland, Oregon.
  • The state randomly selected residents from a lottery to receive Medicaid coverage.
  • The result? Those selected for Medicaid actually used the emergency room more, rather than less.
  • In fact, emergency room visits increased by 40 percent compared to those that did not receive Medicaid coverage.
Fisman concludes that Portland's experience is likely not unique and that America can expect to see similar increases as more people become insured. Rather than increasing emergency room budgets to accommodate new patients, Fisman suggests finding new ways to deliver health care to low-income populations.
 

Mobilty Up the Ladder of Success STILL Works : Believing is Achieving

The ability of a person to move forward is only restricted by that persons willingness to work hard and be ready to sacrifice immediate gratification for future reward. Having a dream and then understanding it is possible to be and do what ever you have to to obtain it is the very basis of the American dream.

Upward Mobility Has Not Declined
Source: David Leonhardt, "Upward Mobility Has Not Declined, Study Says," New York Times, January 23, 2014. Raj Chetty et al., "Where Is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2014.
January 29, 2014

A new study finds that the odds of moving up the income ladder are the same today as they were 20 years ago, says the New York Times.

The findings contradict widespread claims that a person's chance for upward mobility is lower today than in the past. In December, President Obama made this claim, saying, "The problem is that alongside increased inequality, we've seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years."
The study examined 40 million tax records to come to the conclusion that mobility has remained steady. For example:
  • Eight percent of children born in the early 1980s to families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution made it to the top fifth for their age group today. For children born 10 years before that, the rate was nearly the same.
  • Ten years ago, 20 percent of children born in the middle income distribution found their way to the top. That figure is the same today.
The study also examined another report by researchers who had observed children born between 1952 and 1975. Combining those results indicates that intergenerational mobility rates have been steady for the last 50 years.

Absolute mobility -- the measure of a person's income compared to his parents' -- has also improved in recent years. Median family income is close to 12 percent higher today than it was in 1980, meaning that most adults have more disposable income than did their parents at the same age. The growth rate of that mobility has slowed, however, as economic growth has slowed.
 

Health Insurance Companies Controlled by Washington NOT Free Market

The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is and always has been just a tool to gain total control of health care in this country. ObamaCare was designed and rammed down our collective throats with one purpose alone and that is to destroy the health care that we have now and replace it with a system that is controlled by a Washington bureaucracy. It is very important that everyone that watches the news about what is happening to our health care system be prepared to question what is said.

So much of the news is prepared and manipulated to change thinking, to persuade the listener that the information as the talking heads are laying them out are actual facts. Listen to their words they use to confuse and confound the listener. Never let your guard down. Question everything.

Polls are a good example of how the progressives and others disseminate "facts" they say are the rule of the day. How can these facts be wrong as they are from the 'people' them selves? What nonsense. Polls are another tool used to manipulate the narrative to suit the agenda.

The pollster can get what ever answer they want by how the frame the questions and who they ask.
It's amazing how many of the supposedly smartest people in the room fall for this crap. Worse, millions of people are more the willing to believe what ever the pollsters report as fact.

Health Insurance Was Not a Free Market Prior to ObamaCare
Source: Rituparna Basu, "The Broken State of American Health Insurance Prior to the Affordable Care Act," Pacific Research Institute, 2013.

January 29, 2014

The American health insurance market prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not a free market system, says Rituparna Basu, an analyst at the Ayn Rand institute.

Many Americans believed that the U.S. health care system was a mess because health insurance companies had too much freedom -- that a free market health insurance market did not work. To remedy this, the Obama administration implemented the Affordable Care Act.
But Basu challenges the assumption that the health care market prior to the ACA was actually a free market. In fact, the U.S. health insurance system was one of the most government-controlled systems in America. From licensing requirements to finance restrictions to price dictates to coverage mandates, the health insurance market in America was hardly free:
  • Prior to the ACA, 36 states imposed a "rate band" in the small group market and 11 states imposed them in the individual market. Rate bands limit the degree to which health care premiums can be based on your health status. A rate band of 20 percent, for example, means that an insurer cannot charge a premium higher or lower than 20 percent of the average premium offered. These laws mean that the young and healthy end up paying more so that older or less healthy individuals can pay less.
  • States that impose community ratings do not allow insurers to take health status into account at all when charging a premium. Before the ACA, a version of community rating existed in seven states for the individual market and 11 states for the small group market. This just raises premiums for everybody, because insurers are forced to accept all applicants.
  • Governments -- both state and federal -- also required coverage of certain benefits. Pennsylvania began requiring osteopathy and dentistry coverage as far back as 1949. There are more than 2,000 benefit mandates in effect today.
A real, free market for health insurance would not have included these types of controls, which only drive up costs. It was not the free market that was responsible for so many problems in our health care system, but government regulations.
Source: Rituparna Basu, "The Broken State of American Health Insurance Prior to the Affordable Care Act," Pacific Research Institute, 2013.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

States Tax Base Shrinking : Need New Items to Tax

Interesting - tax revenue is drying up so states are trying to find new ways to generate more tax revenue. Here's a great new idea, why not find new ways to spend less.

Should Take-and-Bake Pizza Be Taxed?
Source: Elaine S. Povich, "States Try to Raise Some Dough by Taxing Uncooked Pizza-to-Go," USA Today, January 20, 2014.

January 28, 2014

States are split on whether uncooked pizzas should be subject to sales tax, says USA Today.
Should consumers be charged sales tax when they purchase food to cook at home? Many states are considering the question, as food sold in grocery stores is not taxed, while ready-to-eat food served in restaurants is taxed. Into which category does a take-and-bake pizza fall?

As an example of how much sales tax varies depending upon one's interpretation of what is taxable, 21 states tax repair services, 19 tax landscaping, 18 tax cleaning services, six tax lobbying, three tax legal services and two tax medical services.
Twenty-four states currently follow the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board's (SSTGB) taxing guidelines, but they cannot agree on the proper way to tax uncooked food sold in restaurants.
  • Prepared food (and thus taxable food) is defined by the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board as food in a "heated state," has at least two ingredients that are combined by the seller, or is sold with utensils.
  • Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia all consider take-and-bake pizza to be prepared, taxable food. Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada, Vermont and Wyoming, on the other hand, disagree.
Why has the issue sparked so much controversy? The Tax Foundation points to the shrinking sales tax base, from 60 percent of the economy in 1960 to 30 percent today. As revenue dries up, states are looking for ways to expand the tax.

Right now, the SSTGB has been unable to come to a decision, and the Board is considering allowing the states to decide the issue for themselves.
 

America Ranked 20th for Ease Of Business Start-up : Rwanda Is Easier

I guess what we need now to get our country back from the brink is more regulation, higher taxes and fees. With thousands of new regulations generated every year, and piled on top of the thousands generated the year before on all aspects of our lives, what is anyone that's paying attention or actually trying to start a business think this country is serious about economic success?

Given what has transpired over the last 6 years of progressive socialist controlling the levers of government, is it any wonder we are just rank twentieth and not a lot worse?

United States Ranks behind Rwanda in Ease of Creating New Business
Source: Sean Higgins, "U.S. Ranks behind Rwanda, Belarus, Azerbaijan in Ease of Creating New Business, World Bank Says," Washington Examiner, January 22, 2014.
January 28, 2014

The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation has found that it is easier to start a new business in Rwanda, Belarus and Azerbaijan than in the United States, says the Washington Examiner.
  • The report looked at 189 countries, analyzing their regulations and required procedures for starting a new business, as well as compliance time and costs.
  • New Zealand, the World Bank found, boasts the easiest procedure for starting a business, requiring only "one procedure, half a day, (and) less than 1 percent of income per capita and no paid-in minimum capital."
  • Also in the top five were Canada, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.
But in the United States, starting a new business takes six procedures, five whole days and 1.5 percent of a company's income per capita. The United States ranked 20th among the 189 countries that were studied.
 

Seniors Losing Drug Coverage by CMS New Rules

Who knew? Little wonder the progressive socialist liberal left democrats hate Sarah Palin, especially because she is the one that saw ObamaCare's Independent Payment Advisory Board for what it is, a "Death Panel". A few elites deciding whether or not you or one of your family isn't worth saving.

Do you understand this? I wonder if all those the voted for Mr Obama and his party members, twice, will be happy as they were to vote for the progressives socialists when the board decides that one of those voting citizens doesn't qualify for a positive vote for life?  I wonder if the slobbering will stop or will they lay down and die?

Please understand, where I live this is very possible. Once a democrat that lives among so many other progressive socialist democrats it becomes a mind set that is impregnable by common sense. Sure they believe that the board ruling against my family member is reasonable as this is how things are suppose to work. No questioning the decision, just acquiesce.

It seems being brain dead is easier then the stress of living in the real world.

New Rules to Deprive Seniors of Drugs, Doctors
Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "New Rules to Deprive Seniors of Drugs, Doctors," Real Clear Markets, January 21, 2014.

January 28, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed new regulations that would deprive seniors of vital drugs, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute.

On January 10, CMS published proposed regulations that would severely impact the health of older Americans. First, the regulations would limit the drugs that would be covered under Medicare Part D.
  • Starting in 2015, CMS would no longer require antidepressants and immunosuppressant drugs to be covered under the plan.
  • As depression is the most common elderly health problem, those who would no longer have access to the drugs through their insurance could face problems. Immunosuppressants are used in transplant cases to keep the body from rejecting a new organ. Without those drugs, transplants would have lower rates of success.
  • CMS plans to save $144 million a year with these measures between 2015 and 2019. For some perspective, that is only two-tenths of one percent of total Medicare outlays in 2019.
Second, the proposed regulations are going to impact doctor access. CMS will not cover prescriptions for seniors -- even those who pay for Medicare Part D -- if they receive those prescriptions from doctors not participating in Medicare.
  • This means that seniors are going to have to see doctors who participate in Medicare.
  • Unfortunately, that number has continued to drop due to low reimbursement rates and complicated paperwork. In 2012 alone, 9,500 doctors left Medicare.
  • As more seniors are forced to see a smaller pool of doctors, access to care is going to become more limited.
The 2014 budget cut $10 million in funding from the Independent Payment Advisory board (the board that decides, under the Affordable Care Act, whether drugs and procedures are too costly). Unfortunately, CMS seems to have taken its place in rationing care.
 

Doctors Disappearing : ObamaCare Demands More Doctors

Let's get serious here, after a decade, if not several decades of effort in writing the progressive health care nightmare that has descended on our country, and three years and $600 million dollars to design and build the website for ObamaCare that is unworkable, and now we find that the entire undertaking is a complete fraud, if not outright diabolical in it's hidden agenda for 'single payer' health care that the progressive socialist liberal democrats have always demanded as the only real solution to helping the poor and middle classes obtain 'affordable health care'.

What we have now is no less then a nation wide effort to destroy our country as it was founded.

If you can not understand that a dually elected president of the United States could possibly, willingly and knowingly want to "fundamentally" change our country from a land of individual freedom and self determination into a land of dependent robots , when all signs are clearly displayed for all to see and yet more then 43% of the population believes he is doing a good job, then be ready to accept the consequences.

Who ever voted for him twice must know they are responsibly for the destruction of our country. Whether it's ignorance or complacency, it really doesn't matter does it if the only to survive is to be on bended knees.

We can start to turn this around this November as we have the power to make this difference for ourselves and our off spring.

Primary Care Doctors Will Become More Scarce
Source: Scott W. Atlas, "The Doctor Won't See You Now," Hoover Institution, January 21, 2014.

January 22, 2014

America's supply of primary care doctors is diminishing, says Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

As Americans age and join the health exchanges, access to primary care is going to be essential. In theory, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will add 30 million more nonelderly to the insured pool by 2022.
  • Due to the ACA, there will be an estimated additional 15 million to 24 million primary care visits, which would mean that the United States will need an additional 4,307 to 6,940 primary care doctors by 2019. This number is on top of the estimated additional 44,000 to 46,000 doctors that will be needed over the next decade and a half to meet future primary care demand, even without the ACA.
  • But the supply of primary care doctors is already dwindling, as doctors seek to specialize in more technologically-advanced and higher-paying fields. Of those primary care doctors that are still practicing, many are forming concierge practices to escape growing regulations. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of concierge doctors in the United States increased by 25 percent.
  • Already, 36 percent of doctors will not accept new Medicaid patients and 20 percent of primary care doctors refused to see new Medicare patients in 2012.
The Obama administration is trying to prioritize primary care over specialist care.
  • The ACA promotes increasing payments to primary care providers by taking payments away from specialists.
  • The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has recommended cuts in reimbursements to specialist doctors, reducing fees for non-primary care services by 5.9 percent each year for three years, then freezing them for the rest of the decade.
  • This would be a 50 percent cut in specialist incomes.
This is not the right way to improve health care quality. Specialty care has been responsible for improved survival and lower rates of suffering. Specialists should be rewarded for their extra training, and the United States needs to attract the best students into medicine.

Primary care access should be increased, but this can be done -- and made more affordable -- by expanding the number of outpatient clinics in retail settings. This, along with allowing care by non-physicians such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can improve access to care while reducing costs.
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cities Going Broke : Waste, Fraud and Ignorance

This is amazing - even in the face of total collapse the city refuses to recognize what they are doing is not working and even after the file for bankruptcy they continue on as though nothing has changed.

Goodness - this sure looks like classic progressive democrat ideology. Even in the face of complete failure, the people in power explain everything is fine, nothing to see here as they continue to steal from the taxpayers. Why aren't these people in jail?

This is insane. How does one comprehend the thinking here? Is it possible to understand the mind of lunatics?

Cities Going Broke Across America
Source: Wayne H. Winegarden, "Going Broke One City at a Time: Municipal Bankruptcies in America," Pacific Research Institute, January 2014.

January 27, 2014

More cities across the country are likely to declare bankruptcy, says Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

Municipal debt has traditionally been regarded as very safe for investors, but that trend could be changing. As debt and pension liabilities pile up in city after city, more municipalities are likely to become insolvent.

Most municipalities face financial crises not due to one unlucky event but due to a pattern of financial mismanagement and negligence, and a poor, antigrowth environment. An example is Vallejo, California, which declared bankruptcy in 2008:
  • Police and firefighter salaries and pensions in Vallejo accounted for 74 percent of the city's budget.
  • Police captains were receiving $306,000 in pay and benefits annually, and firefighters earned an average of $171,000.
  • Both groups were guaranteed lifetime health benefits after only five years.
  • In 2007, 292 of the city's employees were making $100,000.
  • The city also failed to make any changes to its expenditures, despite its decreasing revenue after an economically significant Naval Base closed in 1996.
  • With a $16.6 million shortfall, the city filed for bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, after declaring bankruptcy, Vallejo did nothing to address the problems with its pension system. As a result, pension costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and the city remains unstable.

As Vallejo's experience proves, bankruptcy does not solve any city's problems: it is only a tool to begin addressing the root of the financial distress. Because the city did not address the root causes of its financial distress after going bankrupt, it remains in a perilous position.

Filing for bankruptcy also brings costs. Not only are borrowing costs higher and a city's credit rating lower, but businesses have less of an incentive to do business in a bankrupt municipality. As people and businesses leave, the city loses its tax base and the economic environment becomes even weaker.

Unless cities are determined to institute real reforms after declaring bankruptcy, filing bankruptcy will not fix their fiscal woes.
 

Medicare's Wasted Billions : Who Cares?

The question here is why an effort is not made to recover the ill-gotten funds? Why did the duck cross the road? I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with politics? Maybe by allowing the waste to continue more and more people benefit from having a government that is totally out of control? And so why not vote to have it continue out of control. The more democrats that are voted in, more waste and fraud is assured.

Electing politicians that promise to take away the gravy train isn't in the best interest of those that are stealing us blind.

Medicare Program Overpaid Billions Last Year
Source: Rob Garver, "Medicare Execs Are Overpaying $35 Billion a Year...And They Don't Seem to Care," Fiscal Times, January 21, 2014.
January 27, 2014

Medicare's Private Fee-For-Service Plans overpaid $34.6 billion in 2013, says the Fiscal Times.
  • Medicare's Fee-For-Service (FFS) program alone has a 10.1 percent "improper payments" rate, and it is only one of several government programs that have wasted billions of dollars each year.
  • More than $100 billion is wasted annually by 13 of the largest federal programs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the FFS program, can recover these overpayments when they try -- in fact, they recovered 83 percent of funds they identified as having been paid improperly. However, CMS only identifies 0.1 percent of improper payments each year. That's only one one-thousandth of the total amount.
  • To get a sense of just how much money the FFS program overpaid last year alone, $34.6 billion is nearly equal to the entire Department of Justice budget.
  • In fact, those wasted funds could have funded the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, all civil works projects by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Science Foundation combined, and there would still be $1 billion left over.
With the proven ability to recover overpayments, it is puzzling that more effort is not being made to recover the rest of the funds.
 

Economy Sliding Backward : Progressive Socialist Ideology of Sameness

Income inequality, the new talking point from the progressives, isn't about some getting richer while others are getting poorer. It's about too many citizens believing what our government is saying about how it isn't necessary to work hard any more, all that is needed is to vote for them, socialist democrats, and they will take care of all your needs. Period!

How wonderful that will be to not have to work for anything, government will provide all of life's necessities.

The problem isn't really a problem, there will always be individuals that will move ahead of others to gain more resources and class position. This supposed inequality of outcomes is a manufactured situation to divide the population, one against the other, class warfare, convincing the uneducated and low information voter to change their thinking about how prosperity is defined, have a dream for the future and pursuing it with hard work and sacrifice, and how individual freedom is essential to pursue that dream is old fashioned, out dated.

The rich did not get rich by themselves, the working class gave it to them through there hard work. The progressive are trying to convince the lower classes that it's time to take the wealth back to where it belongs.

The progressive socialists believe it's time to level the playing field by taking the ill-gotten gain of the rich and dividing it amongst the working classes. This is known as 'Income redistribution'. Classic ideology of progressive socialism.

The new thinking is everyone will be much happier if your neighbor doesn't have anything better then what you have as well as everyone else in town. No one will be rich. No one will better off then you.  Everyone will be the same. Individual freedom will be defined as your ability to cope and understand the new goal of sameness, it isn't necessary to excel or to be better than anyone else, living a life of obedience to the will of others can be accomplishment enough.

Remember the code of socialist communism as defined by Carl Marx, "Each to his own abilities and each to his needs". It just happens this is the same code of the progressive socialist liberal left democrats.

Reviving the Economy
Source: John B. Taylor, "Let It Grow," Hoover institution, January 21, 2014.
January 27, 2014

Higher tax rates and more targeted fiscal policies will not revive the economy, says John B. Taylor, a senior fellow in economics at the Hoover Institution.

Weak economic growth in the United States today is the result of costly regulations that have reduced incentives to hire along with an unpredictable, and unsuccessful, federal monetary policy.

But President Obama points to policies of the 1980s and 1990s as responsible for today's economy. In those years, "Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the very wealthy and small minimum-wage increases for the working poor," Obama said in July. Those years actually benefited, disproportionately, those with low and middle-level incomes, though income inequality did widen. Why?
  • Returns to education began increasing in the 1980s, as the wage premium for a college degree, compared to a high school diploma, increased.
  • But at the same time, high school graduation rates declined, and the supply of educated students did not respond to that increase in returns on education.
  • Without a great response of supply, those with education rose more quickly, and the United States saw a wider income distribution.
Tax cuts, on the other hand, are not responsible for widening the income distribution. Congressional Budget Office data indicate that the distribution of market income before taxes widened in the 1980s and 1990s by the same amount as the distribution of income after taxes.
 

ObamaCare IS Unworkable : Republican Tort Reform, HSA's Work

What is suggested here is what was proposed by Republicans like Paul Ryan nearly four years ago, but the plan demonized by the progressive socialist democrats as nonsense, and Ryan a killer of the elderly and the poor.

Remember how the democrats used the media to portray Ryan's plan as a killer by a commercial showing granny being wheeled over a cliff? Imagine Republicans doing the same with ObamaCare and how the progressive socialist democrats would be howling with outrage, tearing out their hair wailing 'how the Republicans could be so uncaring to the needs of those that have no place to turn but the government'.

But wait - that's exactly what they are doing and have done for the last 4 years. Worse, a majority of citizens actually believed the democrats and look what it got us!

Health Care Costs Dropping Due to Health Savings Accounts, Not ObamaCare
Source: Peter Ferrara, "Obama Should Stop Taking Credit: Health Savings Accounts Are Driving Down Costs," Forbes, January 21, 2014.
January 27, 2014

President Obama attributes slowing health care costs to the Affordable Care Act, but the slowdown is actually due to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), says Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

ObamaCare only went into effect this year, while the health cost slowdown began 10 years ago. HSAs were enacted into law in 2003 and they have seen remarkable growth:
  • The accounts grew by a full 22 percent in 2012.
  • Total HSA assets in 2012 were $15.5 billion, and they were projected to grow 22 percent again in 2013.
  • At the beginning of 2013, an estimated 15 million Americans were covered by HSAs, and 20 million Americans were covered by Consumer Directed Health Plans.
At the same time, national health spending growth has dropped to 3.9 percent every year between 2009 and 2011, and to 3.6 percent in 2012. This is nearly two-thirds slower than a decade ago, and it is the slowest rate of increase in health care costs since the 1960s.
ObamaCare, on the other hand, has only increased health care costs. HSAs reduce health care cost growth because patients have control over their health care dollars and face incentives to control costs.
  • HSA costs have run close to 25 percent less than costs for traditional health insurance, and annual cost increases for HSA plans have been more than 50 percent less than traditional health care coverage.
  • A 2012 study by the Rand Corporation found that national health costs would drop by nearly $60 billion if half of all American workers used HSA plans.
HSAs should be extended across the health care marketplace to reduce the growth of health care costs. Medicare and Medicaid enrollees should be able to use HSAs, as should those with employer-provided coverage.

Combined with the ability to purchase insurance across state lines and tort reform, these three innovations would solve the problem of skyrocketing health care costs.
 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Colorado's New Settlers Want Change : California Dreamin'

Ever wonder how Boulder and other Colorado cities have become so radicalized? It's the new revolution, since California has become someplace to be from and Colorado is the place to go to, it make sense that this state would become the next California, a cesspool of progressive liberal socialist democrats
 
Understand, Montana is on it's way for the same fate. People are flocking there for the wide open spaces from Washington and Oregon as well as the great state of California. It might take longer for Montana to become radicalized like Colorado due to it's size but be patient, once the good citizens have had a chance to settle, they will become uncomfortable with how the other citizens don't appreciate the new think that the settlers brought from the new world. That will be when the fun begins.
 
Nuttier Than Madison (Wisconsin)
                          
 
A city apparently even more committed than Madison to militant, environmentalist Liberalism has elbowed its way into the spotlight, and it’s not on either coast.
 
Boulder, Colorado, is a cautionary example for the mind-your-own-business variety of citizen who may need to spend more time looking over his shoulder for Leftist hijackings of everyday life.
 
Madison, Wis. at the capital
The sort of university Liberals who presume they can legislate their own reality dominate Boulder politics have beavered away for years toward a government takeover of the private-sector energy company that serves their community, claiming it doesn’t provide enough "renewable" energy and hence insufficiently supports Boulder’s heroic struggle against global warming.
 
Ironically, Xcel Energy furnishes the most wind-generated electricity of any U.S. utility, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that Xcel executives thought making that choice at their customers’ expense would buy them the greenies’ good will.
 
A fat lot of good it’s done them in Boulder.  The city is on the brink of seizing Xcel’s assets—including some outside the city’s jurisdiction—to set up its own utility and sell soft, fluffy, pine-scented green electricity it evidently plans to buy from others—maybe Xcel? 
 
Not content with taking over private property, the Boulderoids last fall campaigned successfully to deny citizens a direct vote on limiting the debt their new plaything could incur.
 
For the rest of us, the relevance is twofold: No matter how hard it tries, no business or industry can ever pander enough to keep the environmental movement from sticking a knife in its back whenever it’s ready.  And however far-removed you think you are from the East- and West-Coast nerve centers of Leftism, if you aren’t careful you can be had.
 
As its name suggests, Colorado used to be a red state. 

Captain Obama Stands Tall As Ship Sinks : What Leak?

2014-01-20-08b6ff2b.jpg
I know the old cop routine when you get pulled over for speeding and you reply you didn't know what the speed limit was and he will reply, 'I'm sorry but ignorance is no excuse' -

I don't know how many times Mr Obama said he didn't know what was going on, 'what? when did that happen?',but when you are the captain and the ship is going down, it's your fault, no matter the circumstances.

But given the progressive socialist democrats that still rally around their captain even as the water reaches the wheel house, cheering him on, it becomes evident the crew and passengers are doomed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Global Warming? Cooling? Facts WITH Cool Charts




This article is from Power Line and explains global warming and cooling. Who knew?

Take a minute and digest the information - something that eco-nut jobs won't do - they don't want to be confused by facts, it's so much easier to rant about thing that one makes up while having a weep pinch of 'blow'.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/powerlineblog/livefeed/~3/SXdGoMEmFh8/when-did-global-warming-begin.php

ACA In-Home Care Provision : States Making It Work?

My goodness - this looks like a good thing on the face of it - but given the claims of past successes that the Obama administration have made, and as we all know they all have turned out bad, it pays to error on the side of caution here.

The fact many states are participating is a good thing, but at the same time before the rest of the states make the move, it seems prudent to wait for some more information on their success or failure before making the leap.

The real problem is taking the federal funds - there are always strings attached when accepting funds from the feds and that's has always proven to proceed failure.

Affordable Care Act Program Encourages In-Home Care
Source: Christine Vestal, "ACA Spurs State Shift in Long-Term Care," Stateline, January 17, 2014.

January 24, 2014

A new program in the Affordable Care Act encourages in-home care rather than nursing home care for the elderly, says Stateline.

The Balancing Incentive Payments Program is intended to keep as many people as possible out of nursing home care. Nursing home care is expensive, and a 2010 AARP survey found that 9 out of 10 older Americans would prefer in-home care to nursing home care.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost of nursing home care in 2010 was $6,235 per month.
  • In 2010, almost two-thirds of nursing home residents had their care covered by Medicaid.
The program provides an incentive to states to participate: states will receive a higher federal spending match for all state spending on home and community care through September of 2015.
  • To receive the federal matching, states must reduce red tape and confusion for those who try to find nursing home alternatives.
  • States must provide an independent case manager for every person who needs one (i.e. those who do not have nursing home ties or other health care services).
New Hampshire began participating in the program in 2011 when it spent almost half of its long-term Medicaid dollars on home and community care. Today, spending on community care exceeds 55 percent.

In addition to New Hampshire, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas are participating in the program.
 

Preschool Progams are Proven Failures : Progressives Push for More

Preschool education has a track record of failure as most federal programs predictably are, due to the lack of common sense or a clear idea how individual will benefit when they are developed. The over riding purpose for most progressive socialist programs is to maximize the political effect for the democrats, advancing the agenda and as an added benefit, it's always something the progressive democrats trot out to swoon the simple and the cognitive challenged, 'it's for the children' is a talking point when ever they believe they can use it as a tool to get votes. It has always been a sure winner with the low information voters.

That it's a sure loser on the educational development side, it's a sure winner on the economic side for the progressives; more teachers and more teaching assistants, more government bureaucrats in Washington to administer the programs, and of course more contributions to the campaign coffers of the democrats from the willing.

I have to wonder as well, given what the majority of teachers in our public school system believe to be teachable subjects, what exactly are the three years being taught? Does anyone know?

Universal Preschool Not Worth the Cost
Source: David J. Armor and Sonia Sousa, "The Dubious Promise of Universal Preschool," National Affairs, Winter 2014.

January 24, 2014

President Obama called for "Preschool for All" in his 2013 State of the Union address, calling for $75 billion in funding over the next decade for such an initiative. But before the federal government embarks upon another educational spending program, a look at the disappointing results of Head Start -- the current federal preschool program -- should give one pause, say David J. Armor and Sonia Sousa, professors at George Mason University.
  • Head Start was started in 1965.
  • Enrollment in 2011 reached 1,000,000 students with $7.6 billion in funding.
  • The intent of the program was to help low-income children catch up with middle-class children so that the two could be on the same footing in kindergarten.
  • Head Start operates separately from local school districts and is usually administered by county- or city-level agencies.
  • Classes are small, with low child-to-staff ratios.
A study comparing Head Start students with those outside of the program had disappointing results:
  • Head Start children did see positive effects compared to children who had no preschool.
  • However, those effects were limited to the one year spent in Head Start and did not extend to kindergarten or first grade.
  • Moreover, the group of three year olds that did not participate in any preschool program actually had higher cognitive scores than the three year olds in Head Start.
  • Many cite the quality of Head Start's curriculum as an explanation for why the program has failed. However, the study found no significant link between the quality of the Head Start program and children's cognitive and social outcomes.
Other preschool programs have also demonstrated a similar lack of positive long-term effects. As all of this evidence indicates that preschool is not effective in benefiting children's long-term cognitive or emotional outcomes, spending another $75 billion on a universal preschool program is not a smart way to spend money.

If the president is interested in a kindergarten program for the disadvantaged, a portion of Head Start funding should be allocated to a national demonstration project -- with a rigorous evaluation system -- that institutes pre-kindergarten programs in a select group of cities. Only when the government can provide evidence that a program is actually going to produce valuable long-term results should more money be spent on preschool education.
 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Plastic Bag Bans Useless : Facts Found In Trash

Why is it necessary to have proof for the progressive socialist to enact a law or fee for something that makes them feel good about themselves? The fact that the proposal or law is completely useless  and or very expensive is of no concern.

What's important is the intent of the law - it just seem like the right thing to do.

Restrictions on Plastic Bags Fail to Deliver Results
Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Restrictions on Plastic Bags Fail to Deliver Results," Investor's Business Daily, January 22, 2014.

January 24, 2014

Despite the popularity of plastic bags, a growing number of municipalities are enacting laws aimed at reducing their use. The laws range from outright bans to taxes, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

One argument for plastic bag bans is that cities will save money by reducing the costs of litter collection, solid waste disposal and recycling. And in tight fiscal times when municipal budgets are strained, the argument is compelling. However, there is simply no evidence that plastic bag restrictions reduce these costs.
  • In 2007, San Francisco became the first city to restrict plastic grocery bags. City Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi claimed that each plastic bag cost the city 17 cents.
  • However, with plastic bags amounting to less than 0.5 percent of the waste stream and a similarly minuscule amount of landfill space, Burnett calculated that the cost of clearing plastic bags from San Francisco's streets, alleys and parks should be less than 7.9 cents per bag, not 17 cents -- a considerable difference.
Even the 7.9 cents figure is suspect, because it assumes that each plastic bag is used only once. However, plastic bags are rarely used only once. People find a variety of ways to reuse them, long after unloading their groceries at home.

Still, all else being equal, the implementation of the 2007 ban should have somewhat decreased the costs of solid waste recovery, disposal and recycling.
  • Yet the available data do not reveal such savings. Rather, San Francisco's household garbage rates increased from 2005 to 2013 by more than 78.6 percent.
  • Other cities have harkened to the siren song of plastic bag bans as well, all with similarly disappointing results.
In short, advocates have given a number of justifications for restricting consumers' use of carryout plastic bags, including concerns about the environment, the visible blight of roadside litter and the costs of disposing and recycling them.

Whatever the merits of the former arguments (which are themselves suspect -- plastic bags make up less than 1 percent of all litter), banning or taxing plastic bags has not reduced waste disposal costs or saved cities money.

Without evidence that the bans produce these savings, the argument behind outlawing plastic bag use on such a basis fails.
 

Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) Risks Insuracne Industry Collapse

Here we go again, ObamaCare was never about actual t providing affordable heath care for anyone, ObamaCare is about presenting a plan that just looks like it will care for everyone but in reality it couldn't and doesn't work, and will never work for everyone as well as the plans they had that just got cancelled.

As we all know, before ObamaCare our health care system was working well, not everyone was covered but then of those that weren't covered,  most didn't want to be covered anyway. But for ObamaCare to work as planed the system that was providing good or excellent care to 92% of the population had to be destroyed and there by force everyone into ObamaCare. It has worked as planned, our system now is in chaos, and those that really did need care are still without care, and everyone else is running for their collective lives to find some sort of insurance that they can afford to pay for.

And while people like Lou Dobbs on FOX business network believes those that believe ObamaCare was intended to fail are wacko's, like Charles Krauthammer, as Dobbs believes it just a matter of Mr Obama not having a clue about how things actually work in the real world, he's just incompetent. Really Lou?

Is it really possible to work on this project for three years and $600,000,000 dollars and not have a website that's workable under any circumstances, and likely never will be before the totally collapse of the insurance industry? Only chaos reigns now in our health care industry. Can this be just incompetence Lou?

The ObamaCare Carnival of Perverse Incentives
Source: John C. Goodman, "The ObamaCare Carnival of Perverse Incentives," Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2014.

January 24, 2014

With fewer glitches to deter them, millions of Americans are now logging on to the ObamaCare health insurance exchange websites. When they get there, many are discovering some unpleasant surprises, says John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
  • The deductibles are higher than what most people are used to, the networks of doctors and hospitals are skimpier (in some cases much skimpier), and lifesaving drugs are often not on the insurers' formularies.
  • Even after the government's income-based subsidies are taken into account, the premiums are often higher than what people previously paid.
Why is this happening? Because the new law gives insurance buyers and sellers perverse incentives to behave in ways that create these problems. Things will only get more out of whack as more and more unhealthy people enter a system designed to be paid for by premiums from healthy people.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, the benefits insurers must offer are strictly regulated. To keep premiums as low as possible, the insurers are offering very narrow networks, often leaving out the best doctors and the best hospitals. In fact, one of the exchange plans in Colorado includes only a single Denver hospital, the one that usually treats Medicaid patients.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are required to charge the same premium rate to anyone who wants to sign up, regardless of health status; and they are required to accept anyone who applies. This means that to make ends meet they must overcharge the healthy and undercharge the sick. It also means insurers have strong incentives to attract the healthy (on whom they make a profit) and avoid the sick (on whom they incur losses) by, in effect, making their plans less appealing to the sick.
At some point, politicians of both parties will realize that we can do better than this. That will require a real market for health insurance with premiums that reflect real risks. There is a role for government in helping people with severe health problems. That is why risk pools exist. What we didn't need was to destroy the market for the many in order to give aid to the few.
 

Natiural Order of the Universe : Women Take Over?

Oh my gosh - have things changed that much over the past few decades? What's happened to our society? What happened to common sense and the natural order of the universe?

Why can't things be like they were?  heh

Legacy Lagislators In Congress Find Hope & Happiness? Thorazine!

I think I have found the cure for the legacy legislators in congress that have a habit of dying in office from old age instead of doing us all a favor of being run over by a bus or the congressional limo.

But no, that is not the case as they have the habit of being nearly dead and still get reelected over and over in districts that are mostly or entirely democrat. Who knew?

These members of the 'walking dead' have a habit of showing the world just worthless our legislators can actually get after being in office for decades and never contributing anything of substance other then provide work for the janitors to clean up after them when they've pissed their pants while on some rant about something that happened in the last century.

Instead of the insanity of having to pay for contraception for women that can't seem or won't control themselves, and which I have nothing to do about making them uncontrollable, I would be more then willing to provide funds for this product and having it injected daily that would hopefully allow the work of congress to continue in some fashion of doing the nations business, all the while allowing these relics to die in their congressional seats, shitting themselves and with a smile on their face.

I know, I know, it won't happen but dreams are what keeps us from going crazy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ole Wants A Job : Math Is His Strong Point - Good One!


A Norwegian Math Test --- This only works for those in Minnna soda , Nort DaKoda, or Viskonsin dont cha know!


Ole, a Norwegian fella wants a job, but the foreman doesn't want to hire him, so he says he won't hire him until he passes a little math test.

“Here is your first question,”  the foreman said. “Without using numbers, represent the number 9.”

“Witout numbers?” The Norwegian says, ”Dat's easy.” and proceeds to draw three trees.

“What's this?”  the boss asks.

“Vot! You got no brain? Tree and tree and tree make nine,” says the Norwegian.  “Fair enough,” says the boss.  “Here's your second question. Use the same rules, but this time represent the number 99.”

The Norwegian stares into space for a while, then picks up the picture that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree. “Dar ya go!”

The boss scratches his head and says, “How on earth do you get that to represent 99?”

“You must be from Iowa.  Each of Da trees is dirty now. So, it's dirty tree, and dirty tree, and dirty tree. Dat is 99.”

The boss is getting worried that he's going to actually have to hire this Norwegian, so he says, “All right, last question. Same rules again, but represent the number 100.”

The Norwegian fella stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says, “Dar ya go! Von hundred!”

The boss looks at the attempt. “You must be nuts if you think that represents a hundred!”

The Norwegian winces and shakes his head. “UFF-DAH! you must be a Finlander from Iowa!”  He leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree and says,  “A little dog come along and pooped by each tree. So now you got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd, and dat makes von hundred!!”

“So, ven do I start?”

 

Common Sense : Dead and Buried

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
 
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- And maybe it was my fault.
 
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
 
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
 
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
 
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
 
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
 
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
 
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
 
Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.
 
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I'm A Victim
- Pay me for Doing Nothing
 
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
 
 
 
 
 

Mr Obama's Aura Leaves Citizen Shaken & Uneasy : Who Are These People?

I always wondered what that feeling or sensation was that griped my heart when I watch Mr Obama, or one of the leading progressive liberal democrats expound on the virtues of socialism, and how if we don't do what they want, all will be lost to the catastrophic results of free markets, smaller government and individual freedom, prosperity. 

cid:32.1638793407@web184306.mail.ne1.yahoo.comProsperity dooms socialism and the progressive liberal left democrats. That the progressive liberal democrats are knowingly and willingly forcing America into decline is not lost on the general population as after nearly 6 years of democrat domination of the economy the workers paychecks how fallen on bad times and unemployment, the actual number of individuals not working, is the worst in decades, and the number of jobs lost forever has no precedent. 

The war now raging by the progressive liberal democrats on Conservatives and Republicans is totally hollow but effective. The democrats rail on a daily basis that the Conservatives are creating the "Inequality" among the classes and that the Conservatives hate women, Hispanics and gays. But in reality it's the progressive own policies of rendering much of the working middle class and the working poor powerless through our jobless recovery and financial policies of that rewards the upper classes with nearly free money. Stimulus 1,2, and now 3, the Federal Reserves bond buying at the rate of $85 billion dollars per month is fueling the stock market to new highs but leaves the rest of us wanting.

Where is the 'equality' of outcomes for us down here in the trenches from the progressives that profess so much sympathy for the 'hard working American that's just trying to get by but is held down by the failures of free markets'? Is it possible the progressives are lying and they really don't care what happens to the country as long as they can cement total control of all outcomes?

Will this rising "inequality" of outcomes make the difference in November for solutions remains to be seen? Will the average voter understand it's the inequality of opportunity resulting from the suppression of free markets and individual freedom to choose ones own destiny that is driving down the economy and any possibility of for future prosperity?

Will the individual voter stand up and vote for the survival of the country for the long haul, or will their focus be on their immediate personal  needs like the progressives are forcing to do?

Will the voter be able to see and understand that because of the socialistic ideological agenda of the progressive democrats for the last six years that is "fundamentally" changing our country into a socialist European style democracy be the most important part of their decision when they enter the voting booth? Will the voter know the difference between personal freedom and the control of a totalitarian government elite?

History is full of predictions of how the voter will decide what is important for their collective survival. The smartest people in the room say the American voter is smart and aware and can be trusted to know what is best for the country And as we all witnessed in 2012 as the economy was in chaos and the foreign police was in flames, the smart voters decided we needed more failure, less prosperity and more chaos. Remember how shocked everyone was when Mr Obama walked out on stage with Joe Biden, arms raised in victory to the cheering crowd?  What? How did this happen?

Reality is a funny thing. Just as the predictions were all wrong in 2012, the predictions for 2104 show the Conservatives and Republican on a tear. This is not reality.  Just when we think everything seems so clear it turns out not to be so. If history is any teacher at all, most of the time predictions in politics have been wrong.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Prosperity Defined by Free Markets and Individual Freedom to Chose

Actual prosperity is hard to measure as it is different for everyone and to understand how much better you are then you were depends on what one considers prosperity actually is.

Much of the stress so many suffer under when they think about how well off  they are or aren't, depends on who and what they use as a measure. Prosperity is relative, what one person believes is a life's goal will be completely different for another.

The very basis for individual freedom of choice and the free markets.

The World Is Better Off Today Than People Realize
Source: Bjørn Lomborg, "The Realism of Global Optimism," Project Syndicate, January 16, 2014.
January 23, 2014

Journalists' bias in favor of bad news has masked improvements across the globe, says Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Today's news is so focused on revealing problems and despair that polls routinely indicate that while many Americans may see their own lives as better today than yesterday, more think that the U.S. economy is worse off. Lomborn attributes this puzzling result to journalistic bias in favor of bad news.

In fact, indicators across the globe show that the world is improving:
  • The amount of extremely poor people has been cut in half over the last three decades, down to only 17 percent of the global population in 2010, compared to 42 percent of the population in 1981.
  • The rate of extreme poverty has never been lower. In fact, economists believe that more than 80 percent of all people were extremely poor in 1820.
  • Illiteracy is down from 70 percent in 1900 to only 20 percent today. Economists who have attempted to measure the economic cost of illiteracy have found that the cost has dropped down to only 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 12 percent of world GDP in 1900.
Poverty and illiteracy are undoubtedly important, and more can be done to lower those rates. But while the news media focuses on the bad, it is important to realize that the world is much better off today than many realize.
 

Technology Advancement In Class Rooms : Teachers Left Wanting?

It seems teachers are not ready to change as fast as technology changes. But when one considers the human condition when it comes to change, little wonder why matching technology advancement with the learning techniques from one generations to the next is a problem.

It easy to just buy the technology and say here it is, teach it, then actually performing the task. For many people, to change a life time habit, doing something one way, is near impossible.

Technology in Texas Public Schools
Source: James Golsan and Brandy Alexander, "The Current State of Digital Integration in Texas Public Schools," Texas Public Policy Foundation, January 2014.

January 23, 2014

Texas school districts have struggled to get teachers engaged in using technology, according to a new report from James Golsan, an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and research associate Brandy Alexander.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation interviewed officials in 27 school districts to assess how well schools were putting technology into classrooms, finding wide variation in technology use:
  • Some classrooms were equipped with Smart board technology, but the boards were never used. Similarly, anecdotal evidence indicated that personal computers -- purchased specifically for classroom use -- were rarely if ever utilized.
  • Sixty-three percent of the districts are using online courses to help students who are at risk of not graduating. These courses allow students to move at their own pace and have helped struggling students remain in school.
The various districts pointed to different challenges in integrating technology into their schools:
  • More than 50 percent of the districts interviewed indicated that the most difficult part of technology integration has been getting teachers to buy into the programs. Many teachers struggle to find a way to implement the technology efficiently and lack experience in using the devices.
  • Forty-one percent of districts said that school funding was their biggest hurdle. However, Texas has tried to make access to technology funds available for schools. The Instructional Materials Allotment was created in 2011, allowing districts to use funds that are designated for instructional use to include technology-related devices and software.
  • Additionally, some schools employ a "Bring Your Own Device" policy, allowing students to bring their own computers from home into the classroom. These programs have certain challenges, though they can also reduce costs while increasing engagement.
Texas has a very strong digital learning policy when viewed on a national scale, ranking 11th out of all the states in a report conducted by Digital Learning Now. Finding cost-effective ways to maximize the number of students able to use technology will improve the growth of digital learning in the state.
 

Education And GDP Are linked? : Smarter Students, Higher GDP

When did stupidity ever win awards or add to the nations prosperity? Never.

But wait, why are democrats are still winning election? - What's wrong with this picture?

Higher Grades Lead to Higher GDP
Source: Eric Hanushek and Paul E. Peterson, "Higher Grades, Higher GDP," Hoover Institution, January 21, 2014.

January 23, 2014

There is a link between educational achievement and national prosperity, say Eric Hanushek and Paul E. Peterson, senior fellows at the Hoover Institution.

Hanushek and Peterson looked at achievement tests given to students across 50 countries and determined that there was a connection between those students' scores and their respective countries' economic growth:
  • Between 1960 and 2009, the incredibly rapid growth in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong is explained by the high test scores by the students in those countries. In fact, economic growth in those countries was nearly 2 percent higher each year than it would have been had the students only demonstrated average academic achievement.
  • Those countries with poor student scores -- South Africa, Argentina, the Philippines and Peru -- saw growth that was 2 percent less than it would have been had their test scores been at the world average.
Raising American student test scores up to the level of Canadian students, the authors estimate, would lead to a dramatic increase in economic growth.
  • That additional growth would be worth $77 trillion over the next 80 years, equivalent to adding 20 percent to the paycheck of every worker.
  • Moreover, if U.S. math scores alone rose by 40 points (which is what it would take to reach Canadian levels) gross domestic product growth would rise by three-fourths of 1 percent per year.
To raise these scores, schools need to look at how they are spending money rather than how much money they are spending.
  • A look at two decades of educational spending in the United States, between 1990 and 2010, gives no indication that changes in spending per pupil impacted student performance.
  • Florida, on the other hand, improved its academic performance dramatically with hardly any changes made to the amount of spending per pupil.
  • More school choice, accountability and market-based teacher compensation can increase achievement without requiring greater spending.
 

Nuclear Energy : Why Not?

It sure makes sense that to diversify our resources for electrical energy is a good idea. It is also a good idea to make coal part of the mix as more then 40% of all of our energy is from coal generation.

Then to approving the XL Pipeline from Canada will give a huge boost to job creation and expand fossil fuel exports as well lower our domestic gas prices. As this has been on Mr Obama desk for several years now and sill he finds more reason to not sign even though all departments have approved the pipeline.

The question then is why won't Mr Obama sign off on this project?

United States Needs More Nuclear Power
Source: Mark J. Perry, "To Balance Energy Demand, We Need Nuclear Power," Investor's Business Daily, January 16, 2014.
January 23, 2014

America is becoming too reliant on natural gas, says Mark Perry, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Overdependence on natural gas could expose Americans to soaring electricity prices, as natural gas has a history of price volatility. Becoming dependent on natural gas rather than coal or nuclear power -- both of which have price stability and are a solid hedge against fluctuations in gas prices -- could be dangerous.
  • For example, in a recent cold snap, the drop in temperatures sent electric power prices skyrocketing in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, from the usual $40 or $50 per megawatt-hour to $1,500.
  • Texas, a state that uses natural gas for more than 50 percent of its electricity production, also saw wholesale power prices reach above $5,000.
  • And Florida relies on natural gas for 70 percent of its electricity supply today.
The United States needs a mix of energy sources to keep the country from relying too much on a single power source. Expanding nuclear power would provide stability in the long-term.
  • Nuclear plants are safe and reliable and can provide carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, free of price volatility.
  • Natural gas is not a substitute for all other forms of power, and it accounts for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Nuclear power, on the other hand, does not pollute the air and provides stability that solar and wind power cannot.
America needs to develop policies that encourage private investment in nuclear plants.