Tag Archives: Wall Street

Health Care CEO Misleads Using Numbers

Many opponents of health care reform are throwing numbers around, making it sound like the health care industry is barely profitable. They claim a 2-3% profit margin. It’s a half-truth –that 2-3% is, in fact, the percentage of total revenue, which is different from net return on investment. For example, CNN Business lists fortune 500 industries by profit margin of total revenue.

If I make $2 for every $100 I collect in revenue that’s 2%. But if I make $2 million for every $100 million I collect that also 2%.  If my operating costs are 20% of my gross profit (the insurance company average is about 17%), then in the former example my net profit is $1.60, a 400% return on my $0.40 investment. In the latter example it would be $1.6 million, also a 400% return. In both I keep 80% of the gross. In other words, the health care industry’s revenue is ginormous, and its operating costs are low. There’s tons of wiggle room for profit even with having to pay out medical claims.

No one would stay in any business with a 2-3% net return on investment when CD bank rates are 2.85% for a 5 year certificate. With those numbers a business might as well invest its money and do nothing. The real numbers show that the health care industry’s return on share holder equity is 16%. Not a bad return at all. But if you accept the profit margin lie, then the health care companies must be operating at a major loss, which we know isn’t true.

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Conservatives And The History Of Teleprompters

Watch the video and you’ll see David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, call the teleprompters in front of him “this new technology”. The teleprompters here are glass panels on poles angled so as to reflect the projected words from below. Well, here’s a picture from the 1980’s of Ronald Reagan speaking before British Parliament. Anything look familiar?

One of the reasons conservatives fail so miserably is because they’re not living in the same reality as the rest of us. And they think they’re being clever. How pathetic.

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When Economists Twist Biology

A site called KansasCity.com posts a column called Midwest Voices, and a professor emeritus of economics from the University of Notre Dame –Larry Marsh–has written an absurd piece insisting that if one accepts evolution then it follows that one must accept free-market economics, and therefore reject socialism; forget that the former is a science and the latter is a social policy.

Marsh begins with:

Is life fundamentally bottom-up and randomly designed or top-down and intentionally designed? Are you a socialist-creationist or a free-market evolutionist? If you reject this dichotomy and instead view yourself as a socialist-evolutionist, how can you justify arguing for the power of self-organization and unintentional, benevolent design in biology and against it in economics?

The gist of his column is that he thinks living under the umbrella of a free-market economy naturally benefits all individuals, which he sees as analogous to individual ants benefiting from being part of a colony –which is actually organized from bottom up rather from the top down (i.e. government). As Marsh says, “The queen ant is not a commander ant. The colony just consists of individual ants instinctively following their nature”.

I suppose he’s saying it’s our nature to be capitalistic. And by following our nature we all profit. Oh, but what a magnificently lame philosophy it is. Invoking Adam Smith and Charles Darwin, as Marsh does, and setting them up against socialist Karl Marx and creationist William Paley may sound good on paper, while sitting in the comfy chair inside a professor’s air-conditioned office, but reality isn’t so pretty.

Hasn’t Marsh heard the estimate that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct? Or that historically the average rates of extinction and speciation have been about equal? (Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck by David Raup) Or that most offspring in the wild don’t make it to adulthood? The female Clownfish (anemone fish), for example, lays up to 1000 eggs in a clutch, but predation, genetic misfortune, and physical mishaps will likely destroy all but a tiny fraction. Mother Nature may recycle, but she’s a wasteful and inefficient bitch.

Should our economy be run in this fashion? Do we want General Motors using this model? Say for every one car it produces 100 will be junked. Or for every profitable loan Bank Of America makes, 100 will be bad debt. How long would the economy last?

That ‘radical’ Richard Dawkins has often said evolution is not a template for society; he likes to quote Tennyson –“nature, red in tooth and claw”. But through Marsh’s naive non-biologist eyes, evolution is not just an explanation for the origin and diversification of new species, it’s an instructive manual on how to live one’s life.

Marsh sounds like he accepts evolution, and as an academic he may well think he’s performing a double-whammy service by conflating it with capitalism, but he’s only cherry picking the parts of evolution that fit in with his economic views.

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Sarah Palin, The Anti-Intellectual

Like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin (I keep typing “plain” mistakenly) is an anti-intellectual. She comes across as completely incurious about economic issues and about international politics in general. She obtained her first passport only last year. And she spouts mindless uninformed opinions on important scientific issues; for example, mocking the use of fruit flies in genetic research. A periodic reading of the science section of a news magazine would have educated her on the basics. Slogans like “Joe Sixpack”, “Hockey Mom”, and “Joe The Plumber” aren’t a substantive political platform, they’re advertizing jargon. You Betcha!

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Obama, A Conservative’s Nightmare

In 2000 I feared a George Bush presidency, but I never seriously thought Bush was the devil’s disciple or that he would bring on the apocalypse. I just thought Bush would bring terrible policies. And he did. He dirtied America with his rotten conservative values, reckless decision making, and heavy handed foreign policy. But his slimy fingerprints on our beautiful country can be wiped away, and Bush can be relegated to the mistakes pile.

Eight years later and conservative pundits are screaming that America as we know it is going to be destroyed by an Obama presidency. For example, Michael Medved, movie critic, radio hack, and cheerleader for intelligent design, is crying that changes brought about by a President Obama would be “permanent and devastating”.

But conservatives need to face the fact that Barack Obama has promised profound systemic changes that will be irreversible—absolutely permanent alterations of our economy and government where there is no chance at all that Republican office-holders of the future could in any way repair the damage.

Medved uses the prospect of higher taxes to spread a little fear amongst conservatives. But he makes a serious mistake in his thinking.

Yes, it’s true that some changes by liberal presidents can be erased by future conservatives – for instance, George W. Bush cut the top marginal tax rate to 35%, after it had risen to 39.6% under Clinton (it’s sure to go back up to the Clinton rate – or higher – under Obama).

Conservatives often cite tax rates the same way twelve-year-old boys recite baseball stats. The problem is that a tax rate, a percentage, does not equal the actual amount of tax collected. Corporations, and the ultra rich, have perfected the art of moving profits and assets offshore. They also know how to reap the benefits of corporate welfare. So, wealthy conservatives exaggerate their tax burden. What do they want, to have a lower tax rate than the middle class?

Medved goes on to list what Obama will bring to America: “Homosexual marriage”, “subsidized health insurance”, “The National Endowment for the Arts”, liberal immigration, etc. Medved ends with:

The conservative movement, and the survival of a viable small-government faction in American politics, depends upon a McCain victory in November. A triumph for Barack Obama, combined with Democratic gains in both House and Senate, could easily usher in a dark new era with decades of corrupt, welfare-state, bureaucratic leftist rule.

This nightmare of Medved’s is purely of his own twisted imagination. A liberal agenda might indeed be enacted, but will it force America into “a dark new era”? The answer is no. I don’t even think Medved believes this. Conservative pundits use fear mongering as a tool to whip the masses into an angry froth. And what’s more effective than screaming “liberal”, “socialist”, “terrorist”, and “anti-American”. Medved isn’t a commentator, he’s a professional propagandist. If Obama does damage America, it will endure. American is not as fragile as the wacko conservatives would like you to think. If Obama scrares you, it’s because you’re too impressionable.

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The Presidential Election Is Over, Obama Won

The best method of grabbing people’s attention – and selling more advertising – is dramatically covering daily events in a simplistic manner, which is what the news media does every day. People don’t like having things explained to them in detail. Example, I never hear reporters actually mention more than one poll at a time. They typically shove the most dramatic poll in our faces, the one with the largest spread. And they ignore the mass of polls – the bigger picture – which would give us the most accurate measurement of what’s actually going on.

Check out the electoral map of the presidential election at RealClearPolitics. Some media people give the map a superficial glance and claim McCain has the advantage or that Obama and McCain are tied. But if we look at the list of polls for each state, and count how many polls Obama and McCain actually won we see a different picture emerge. (Averaging can be deceptive; a modal analysis is often better).

In the above video, the commentator asks what if McCain were to win Michigan. But he doesn’t delve into the details of the Michigan polls. Out of 30 polls McCain barely wins 7. So, is it even a realistic scenario to begin with? I don’t even see why the media keeps defining Michigan as a battleground state. Michigan is going to Obama.

From the mode of the state polls Obama is also likely to win Colorado and New Mexico. If the solid blue states stay blue, then Obama has the advantage and will win the election with 273 electoral votes. At least this is my prediction. Don’t forget to vote.

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Top 15 Christian Conservative Ice Cream Flavors

15. Post The Ten Command-Mint (Available everywhere)
14. Baby Killer Coconut Scream (May not be legal in some states)
13. Blasted Bambi & Bible Thumper Wild Berry (Not for children under 7 years of age)
12. Try The Peppermint Stick From My Cold Dead Hands (Requires a 3 hour waiting period)
11. Adam & Steve In Hell-Fire Fudge (Packed hard in a cone)
10. King Kong Evolution Is Dead Banana Mocha (Artificial flavoring)
9. The North Of The Border, The Whiter The Chocolate (Made In Mexico)
8. Chewy Jewie Bubblegum (A traditional Germany Recipe)
7. Charles Darwin’s Soulless Ice Cream Coffin Sandwich (Part of our school lunch program)

6. Burnt Atheist Brownie (All natural ingredients)
5. Jerry Falwell’s Judgment Day Peanut Butter Surprise (High in cholesterol)
4. Liquorish Whip The Liberal (Seasonal flavor)
3. Sarah Palin’s Half-Baked Alaskan Nut Bar (Aged for 6000 years)
2. The Evangelical Express-O (Our most popular flavor)
1. Marshmallow McCain Wafflecone (Changes flavor with temperature)

P.S. Check out Fox News’ reporting on Barak Obama. it parallels their analysis of John Kerry in the 2004 election. Disgusting.

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