Pilant's Business Ethics

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Tag: Medicare

Thomas Friedman Gets Entitlements Wrong

Thomas Friedman Gets Entitlements Wrong

 

Sorry Kids, Thomas Friedman Is Not Very Good at Economics

 

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/sorry-kids-thomas-friedman-is-not-very-good-at-economics

 

Many young people may have been mislead by Thomas Friedman’s column, titled “Sorry Kids: We Ate It All,” which implied that our children might somehow suffer because we are paying so much to seniors for Social Security and Medicare. The reality of course is that if our children and grandchildren do not enjoy much higher standards of living than do current workers and retirees then it will be because the rich have rigged the deck so that they can accrue most of the gains from economic growth.

 

I heartily agree with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The generational theft storyline has been running around for a while and it is both wrong and unconvincing. Let’s take me for instance, I have my form in the mail from the Social Security Administration telling me what to expect. If I wait all the way until I’m 70, I will receive, $1,440 a month. I’m a little curious? When did that become a princely sum? Is this the kind of money that will enable me to go the sand and surf of Hawaii or does it more look like I’m going to have trouble paying for a place to live and basic groceries. I’m leaning toward the latter conclusion. Even in Arkansas, 1,440 dollars a month is not going to pay for a mansion. I might add that I have been paying in on that all of my working life, so it’s not free as far as I am concerned.

 

Well, what about Medicare? Well, it’s obvious to me although not to Friedman, that medical patents are being abused, that not allowing prescription drugs to either be bargained for by the federal government or purchased overseas is creating dramatically high medical costs and there are a bundles of other good choices we have to reduce out medical costs instead of telling seniors, “It’s just too bad, you got old while Thomas Friedman was considered an expert.”

 

Where do these people get the gall to tell the great middle class to go without pensions and health care when they have expressed no willingness to fix the nation’s problems? Why do we have a system where capital gains is taxed at less than wages? Why do we have no financial transaction tax to discourage the speculation which has wrought havoc all over this nation and the world?

 

 

 

James Pilant

 

From around the web.

 

From the web site, Okieprogressive.

 

http://okieblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/social-security-and-medicare/

 

Social Security and Medicare are programs that are needed relevant and necessary!

 

Robert Samuelson Complains About the Paint Job on the Titanic: Yet Another Deficit Whine | Beat the Press

From the Article

In a column on Monday Samuelson told us of his “fantasy”:

“Retired presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would tour the country together and apologize. They would apologize for not tackling Social Security and Medicare when they had the chance.”

What a fantasy! Here we are sitting in the middle of the wreckage of the housing bubble and we are supposed to be upset at Presidents Clinton and Bush for not cutting Social Security and Medicare.

I too have a fantasy: “Robert Samuelson travels the country and talks to the elderly who would be homeless or hungry without Social Security. He then visits one of the free medical fairs where hundreds and sometimes thousand of middle class Americans try to get the medical care they can no longer afford because they have no insurance. And finally, that Samuelson would free his mind from free market absolutism and make decisions based on facts.”

As long as Samuelson lives, the top one percent will never lack a propagandist for their point of view. Are millions out of work – No Big Deal. But could in twenty years, America’s deficit cause poor returns on bond investments – My Gracious, something has got to be done and it better be immediate!

The deficit is a minor problem in comparison with the financial fraud of the 2008 collapse, widespread mortgage fraud, the international financial crisis particularly in Europe, the war in Afghanistan and the unemployment crisis in the United States. No amount of Washington Post editorializing will change those facts.

But as far as the top one percent are concerned, facts are meaningless. Their concerns are the only legitimate concerns and they intend to get something done. If not by votes or elections, then by a fourth politburo style committee of both houses of Congress designed to impose their vision of Social Security and Medicare cuts while leaving all the other current priorities unaddressed.

These self centered fools, in particular the editorial page of the Washington Post, deserve little but contempt for their one sided propagandizing. They can do better and their customers and their nation deserve some active journalism instead of slavish devotion to ideas an intelligent child would dismiss.

James Pilant

P.S. Please click the link below and visit Beat the Press and read the whole article. My comments can never equal the full impact of the complete writing.

Robert Samuelson Complains About the Paint Job on the Titanic: Yet Another Deficit Whine | Beat the Press

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Rick Scott’s Welfare Drug Test Saves No Money: Judge

Once again, we find ourselves in the wonderful world of the upper class mind set. Obviously, people on welfare must be on drugs. Why? Because it obvious.

You might that “obviousness” wouldn’t be enough but that didn’t stop the State of Florida from charging in and creating a drug testing policy. It is a disaster with the state paying out far more money for tests than gaining in benefits.

Why do people like Rick Scott think these kinds of things are good ideas? Because people like Rick Scott are worthy. That’s right. If you earn money at a job, it’s people like Rick Scott who made it possible for you to have a living. You owe everything you are to people like Rick Scott. That’s what they believe.

Rick Scott and his friends are part of the top 1 percent in this nation.

Rick Scott got to the pinnacle of success through contacts and the manipulation of the laws that allowed him to turn once public hospitals into private facilities firing workers, reducing care and introducing fascinating new ways of billing Medicare.

Without elaborate connections, large sums of money and a willingness to forego traditional concepts of morality, these things are not possible. Those people willing to do these things consider themselves to be creators of wealth – “job creators.”

To them, that American workers are losing ground is due to the workers’ own inability to work intelligently and hard. Yes, they believe that.

They are unable to consider the circumstances of people who live without their enormous array of contacts and knowledge about how to use the levers of power. To the friends of Rick Scott, it is always a matter of hard work and initiative, for if it were anything else their enormous advantages would have to be taken into consideration, and their successes would appear more inevitable and unearned.

But those who do not have regular employment, the friends of Rick Scott only have disdain. “If there are want ads in the paper, anyone can get a job.” I’ve actually heard that. I have had many reports of people saying it and those stories astonished me but to actually hear it was still a shock. In their world, anyone can either find employment or can create an entrepreneurial job working out of the home or their car or something. Millions of Americans are unemployed right now with little chance of getting a job anytime. That is a fact, but not in the world of Rick Scott.

So, if you are unemployed, something must be terribly wrong with you. And it must be drugs. Of course, they also believe that the unemployed eat, drink, smoke, watch television and play video games too much and these also figure as candidates for these people’s unworthiness. But as I said, it is obvious that they must be using drugs. That they aren’t isn’t going to change anything in the world of Rick Scott.

Studies will be produced explaining that the dismal effects of Florida’s were actually a rousing success. (There’s already one out.) They will be trumpeted on sympathetic web sites, talk radio and Fox news. New studies will be commissioned for sympathetic academics to generate preordained “studies” which will justify further restrictions on the poor. Maybe next time, it will be tests for alcohol use, evidence of a stable marriage or a requirement for multiple approvals from the school, the county and the State before some one can get aid. The media, academia and the government have enormous sympathy and compassion for the Rick Scott’s of the world continually reinforcing their worthiness with awards, studies, gushing front page tributes, and favorable laws.

One thing that Rick Scott feels every day of his life is worthy. He has been a blessing to his fellow Americans because of his drive, his ambition and his successes. No grant, no loan, no use of a State or county road, no aid from a sympathetic relative was a critical element in his success. He will freely admit that they eased the way but he would have succeeded in spite of every obstacle on his own without help. So would the others of his class and since they did not need Social Security, student loans, publicly funded institutions of any kind, etc., etc., you don’t either.

They cannot understand why you do not understand this. They are the job creators. They are the makers of this society, the useful members. Weighing them down with obligations like taxes is a tax upon yourself because you stop them from being successful so they can help you by being more productive. It is clear to them that you should bear total responsibility for any problems without any aid whatever (save in a charitable sort of way) because that produces the best possible outcome. The spur of your pain, your struggle, will make you more like Rick Scott.

And in their eyes, then and only then, will you become worthy.

James Pilant

 

Rick Scott’s Welfare Drug Test Saves No Money: Judge

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Jayaraman Rajah Iyer Comments on My Post – The Ethics Sage Wants the Politicians Gone!

Jayaraman Rajah Iyer is a buddy of mine. He comments on economic issues and always has something interesting to say and often controversial as well.

Here are his comments in full.

James Pilant

Jayaraman Rajah Iyer

I quote from my bookmark of Washington Post by Jim DeMint “On Sept. 12, 2009, millions of citizens rallied across the country. They gathered in the nation’s capital and other cities to convey a clear message: You work for us; we don’t work for you. Stop the bailouts, the takeovers, the debt and dependence”

In response to the first amendment Freedom of Speech, ‘Government for the People’ maintains stoic silence and conveys ‘yell as you like. Always, it is Government for a few people’.

In India we do have to go a long way in bringing the Government tuned to the people. Those who are trying, struggle but no comparison to the struggle of the masses who exist below poverty line, a 550 million of them. However, there are some initiatives from the government that were put through some years back, would be of considerable interest to the people of United States. It was in 1965 that the government of India brought out a compulsory Cost Audit for manufacturers of vegetable oils as an essential commodity for the masses. Every fortnight companies like Unilever had to go to the government for permission to increase the price of a tin of vegetable oil justifying in detail the cost escalation the company in question had gone through the period of 15 days. [Dr. Kaplan’s ABC that came in 1983, was in full use in 1966 by every such company providing the government with cost data analysis.] The cost audit system was successful and subsequently it was extended to very many commodities including medicine and petroleum that are in vogue even today.

Had not the Indian government introduced the cost audit we would have rich companies, poorer government and higher inflation. In US it is unthinkable that the government would intervene in the running of the companies. Today US is full of companies that are very rich, like Apple is said to have more money than the government, but government is running at loss. The US Senators and Congressmen do not realize that ‘Government for the people’ is no longer with them, it is with a few with ‘massive private gains at public loss’. Corporate Social Responsibility in US is an illusion.

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Why is the Debt Ceiling Crisis a Business Ethics Crisis?

Seal of the United States Supreme Court

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Why is the Debt Ceiling Crisis a Business Ethics Crisis?

Because there are several serious business ethical questions involved.

We simply be in this mess without astroturfing by corporate interests. That is immoral. Creating apparently grass roots public groups with corporate money and then launching it at opponents as if it weren’t the financing corporation is blatant deception.

The hard right wing candidates would have had a great deal more difficulty getting elected without last minute infusions of corporate cash made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. The idea that a corporation is the equivalent of a person in terms of political and free speech activity is more political comedy than rational thinking. The concept that a corporation with forty billion dollars it can allocate to a political campaign should be on the same footing as a actual human being who on the average makes about 34,000 dollars a year in this country is a concept whose only value is a massive shift in political power and that is what is happening. American citizens are increasingly insignificant in the political realm. The decision was immoral. It placed the interests of powerful corporations above that of humanity.

The current economic crisis was caused by financial profiteering. Without this current depression, there would have been a great deal more tax revenue. Besides the practice of “disaster” conservatism, where any economic disaster can be exploited to impose financial hardship on the middle class, would not have been possible. Financial profiteering is immoral. It is also illegal but you couldn’t tell it by the actions of “our” government.

I can go on – blatant manipulation of our laws to directly divert public money into corporate coffers – outsourcing – avoidance of taxes – and on and on. All of these and more created our current impasse and are destroying the ability of middle class Americans to own homes, provide for their children, have stable retirements or too survive financially day to day.

We have a crisis in this government but the moral and ethical crisis of the businesses of this nation are root and branch of the problem.

We would not be in this situation without rampant ethical and moral failings in the business world. And the corruption has afflicted our government and there seems little hope of a cure.

James Pilant

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Tea Party gives Boehner a budget headache (video)

This is an animated film from Taiwan News explaining the tea party and its role in the budget impasse in the United States. It’s very strange and a mild R for scatological humor. I have not yet had an opportunity to use it as a classroom information tool. It’s a little (a lot?) strange by American standards. Tell me if you think it is suitable.

James Pilant

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Paul Krugman Says to the House of Representatives – Vote NO

Best line –

Third, the idea that a temporary disruption would permanently damage faith in US institutions now seems moot; if you haven’t already lost faith in US institutions, you’re not paying attention. 

Paul Krugman

This is from Paul Krugman’s post – If I Were In The House

Here’s his essay –

I guess I have to be explicit at this point: yes, I would vote no.

What about the catastrophe that would result? Several thoughts.

First, what I keep hearing from people who should know is that Treasury won’t actually run out of cash tomorrow, that it still has a few more days.

Second, the people who claim that terrible things would immediately happen in the markets also claimed that there would be a big relief rally once a deal was struck. Not so much: the Dow is down 121 right now.

Third, the idea that a temporary disruption would permanently damage faith in US institutions now seems moot; if you haven’t already lost faith in US institutions, you’re not paying attention.

Fourth, those legal options are still there. Obama can move now; and even if he eventually loses in the courts, that gives him time.

Sure, it’s risky. But the whole situation is immensely risky, thanks to the extremism and bloody-mindedness of the right. There are no safe options, and trying to play it safe when there is no safety lands you, well, where Obama is right now.

I fully agree. Paul Krugman is right. No deal and default is better than submitting to blackmail and creating a new forth branch of the government.

James Pilant

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The Rogue Columnist Blasts the Debt Deal

Rogue Columnist!

The Rogue Columnist blasts the debt deal.

As always, Jon Talton writes with a acid pen but this budget deal calls for nothing less. Here’s what he has to say

As expected, President Hoover and the corrupt/enervated Democratic Party gave away any tax increases in the debt-ceiling stand-off. The results of this “balanced approach” will be years, if not decades, of economic and social destruction. The Republicans have a partner in their cherished ambition to dismantle Social Security, the Great Society and the New Deal in the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As with the 24 million un- or underemployed Americans in a nation of 301 million, the damage will begin at the margins and not be fully felt for years.

That’s about right. This horrifying spectacle of political blackmail and presidential failure will damage this country for decades. The agreement calls for the creation of a Super Congress which will not be subject to the will of the people, essentially a politburo designed to do the unpopular things because in their minds the desire of the American people for job security, a stable retirement and help with medical costs brand them as irresponsible.

The American government in the face of the greatest jobless crisis since the Great Depression has slipped into a kind of anti-debt senility that will tank the economy while doing little to actually reduce the deficit.

James Pilant

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36-Year Congressman John Conyers Calls for Protest Against the Debt Deal: “Thousands of People [Should Mass] In Front Of The White House To Protest This" (via Washington’s Blog)

Inflation adjusted percentage increase in mean...

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First listen to John Conyers –

This video is courtesy of Washington’s Blog.

This budget agreement is a disaster but even more disgusting is the creation of new branch of the government –

Here’s why we don’t want a “super congress” as proposed under the debt ceiling agreement. From the article

That’s not all. If the politburo — handpicked members split evenly between the two gangs of thieves and poltroons that now hold sway on Capitol Hill — can’t agree on just how much they want to gut the budget and cut taxes for the rich, why then, this will trip a series of “triggers” which will automatically start gutting, slashing and cutting, without any vote by the democratically elected representatives whatsoever. And surely it would be superfluous in me to point out that these unaccountable “superpowers” will soon stretch to cover other areas of legislation beyond budgeting and taxes.

Behind all the flim-flammery of this manufactured “crisis”, we are watching the creation of a new form of government — or rather, the further mutation of the new form of government that the United States has been crawling toward for a long time. We called it a “neo-feudal oligarchy backed by a militarist police state” here the other day. No doubt there are many other ways you could describe this murderous, ravenous, lopsided monstrosity of a system. But the one thing you cannot call it is a “republic”.

John Conyers

Get mad. I don’t want you to do violence. I want you to be aware and to be tough with our elected officials. Let us try to change these things peacefully.

James Pilant

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The Ethics Sage Wants the Politicians in Washington Gone!

In his blog post –  Throw the Republicans and Democrats Out of Office, Steven Mintz calls for us to throw the rascals out. And he’s right. I support him 100% in his call to vote out the current incompetents.

Here are his lead in paragraphs but to get the real flavor, you need to go and read the whole thing (and, of course, put the site on your favorites!).

Steven Mintz

Politicians have lost sight of their main responsibilities — to serve the public interest, honor the public trust, and be faithful to their constituency. It’s the latter that can get them into trouble as is the case with the current budget deliberations. The republicans are driven by conservative views and the Tea Party principles based on balancing the budget, cuts in spending especially from entitlement programs and no new revenues. If this is the Tea Party manifesto then it should start to drink caffeinated coffee. This is not the time to pursue a balanced budget amendment given the government has failed to deliver one for at least the last 14 years and we are still fighting two unwinnable wars. 

The Democrats want no balanced budget amendment, limited cuts in spending programs and new revenues by raising the tax on taxpayers making over $250,000 in income. There needs to be changes in social security such as expanding the retirement date to a minimum of 65 years and a maximum 70 years. I would also recommend a slight increase in the 2.5% tax on Medicare which is low in comparison to the 6.25% rate for social security. We have an aging population that now lives longer than in the past and a slight increase in the Medicare rate is justified given the higher Medicare costs to the government.

My own opinions on our current politics have been featured in so many of postings I don’t feel the need to add to this. Besides this particular soap box belongs to the Ethics Sage.

James Pilant

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