atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6948: We tied 2009

260 days with no sunspots in 2019. 9 more and we beat 2008.

* * *

Let me ask a question. What does it cost someone making $100,000 a year? $200,000 a year? $300,000 a year?

The figure is disingenuous because about 50% of the federal income tax is paid by the top 5% of income earners in the United States. The median income for the top 5% is $376,000. And we know that the tax rate is not linear; the more you make, the faster it goes up, so we can't just assume that someone earning $500,000 a year pays $30 a month into SNAP.

Okay, the Beatles had their song "Tax Man" where it bemoaned the fact that at the top tax rate in England ninety-five percent of your income was confiscated by the government. While income taxes in the US are not quite so confiscatory, they're still pretty bad; the top tax rate is 37%.

The disingenuousness of this argument is typical for people who support expanding welfare, though. The median income for all earners in the US is around $40,000 and in fact there is a surprisingly large pool of people who pay no taxes but get "earned income tax credits" (meaning the government gives them money). With the top 5% paying as much income tax as the other 95%, it's easy to see why the argument is so specious.

* * *

Hospitals don't want to have to tell everyone what their rates are. Of course they don't. Look: it's a pretty sweet racket that they've got going, being able to charge anyone whatever they want. In the early 20th century the government made that practice illegal for just about every other industry in the country; if you're a plumber or a mechanic or a baker or whatever you have to tell people what your prices are up front.

You can't come into someone's house to fix a leaky toilet and then bill them $5,000 because you found that the leaky toilet was caused by a blockage in a pipe in the basement that required replacing half the pipes between the toilet and the water softener. "Fix leaky toilet" requires an estimate; when you find the root cause you need to stop work and tell the customer, "$5k to fix it, or live with the leaky toilet." And you cannot change your prices based on a person's circumstances; the price you charge one person must be the same as the price you charge another, and any differences must be explained.

Medicine's not quite so cut and dried as plumbing--I get that--and things happen. But as things stand now someone going into the hospital for a routine, uncomplicated appendectomy will be billed one price if he has insurance, but quite another, much higher price if he does not--and that kind of practice is why medical care costs so damned much. Further than that, though, is that there's no good way to predict how much that appendectomy will cost for two people who have insurance or two people who don't. "Each case is different", sure, but for any two routine appendectomies the price should be approximately the same--in any other industry, they would be--but there can be wild differences from case to case.

Imagine how much tradesmen would love to be able to bill for their services the way doctors do! Just do the work, adding whatever you need as you see fit, and then send a bill: "Well, when I was tuckpointing your chimney, I found that the foundation under your fireplace was cracked so I had to replace it, and it turned out that the damage was more extensive than I thought. That's why my bill is $126,000. But your insurance will take care of it!" "Okay, Mr. Smith, I've cleared the clog in your sink. That'll be $35,000--oh, you have insurance. The price is $11,000."

Medical care should be subject to the same "fair trade" laws that every other industry is subject to. That would go a long way towards fixing the cost problem.

* * *

So that shooting in Pensacola, it turns out that the shooter was a Saudi national, and he had six co-conspirators, three of whom were filming the attack.

Totally not terror-related, though, right, FBI? *rolleyes*

* * *

I do believe this is going to be rather a big stink. The more people think about it, the more upset they'll get that the police used civilians as cover.

The behavior is not surprising, though. Ultimately, the police are not responsible for your safety. That's come out of every last court case where innocent bystanders ended up injured or killed by bullets from police firearms.

In a shootout, the criminal is the responsible party, not the police. Theoretically, this does not give the police carte blanche to spray lead all over the place, but in practice we see how that turns out. We are not wrong to be outraged when they act irresponsibly.

But you see, that's why I--finding myself in the middle of a shootout--would just GTFO of there. The police don't care. The criminals certainly do not. The only one present who cares about the integrity of my skin is me.

* * *

Ten years later, the same tired song. We have ten years to save the planet! Again.

Doomsayers always move the goal posts. It's how they stay in business.

* * *

And that about wraps up today's post. Further bulletins as events warrant.

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