Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cab Thoughts 12/14/16

"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In the last six years, insurance premiums rose 19%, or 3X faster than inflation. Deductibles rose 63%, more than 10X faster than inflation. Earnings rose only 11%, or less than 2X faster than inflation. Those three numbers explain why most people feel pressured by healthcare costs. In the aggregate, healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are consuming a large and rapidly swelling portion of middle-class income.
Businesses are responding to increased costs by raising the premium contributions of employees and raising deductibles. Even among large companies, 45% now have healthcare plans with deductibles of $1,000 or more.

Apotheosis noun: 1. the ideal example; epitome; quintessence: This poem is the apotheosis of lyric expression. 2. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.
Apotheosis is a Late Latin and Greek word meaning "deification." It ultimately derives from the Greek combining form theós meaning “god.” It entered English in the late 1570s and later developed the sense "departure from this earthly life into heaven." 
"For a long time, the U.S. has boasted that its lively election is a sign of its system’s superiority. However, the essential purpose of the election is to provide a driving force for development. The most important task for presidential nominees is not to win the election, but to eventually govern the country.  It's time for the U.S. to take a close, honest look at its arrogant democracy and flawed politics."---from.......edited and translated from 美国选举乱象凸显制度弊端 Source: People's Daily!!!!! Interesting the Chinese think of government as "the driving force of development."

"And thus we end by thinking again of the unlikeness between ourselves and the Russians ; and by envying them that extraordinary union of extreme simplicity combined with the utmost subtlety which seems to mark both the educated Russian and the peasant equally. They do not rival as in the comedy of manners, but after leaving Tolstoy we always feel that we could sacrifice our skill in that direction for something of the profound psychology and superb sincerity of the Russian writers."--from a review by Virginia Woolf of Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks and Other Tales of the Caucasus. In it she compares Tolstoy to the English writers of the time.

"The big and little tragedies of a profit-directed economy are necessary for it to get better.  The same is true in science and art, though not about money profit.  Many experiments fail, and we get the benefit from the better ideas for surgeries and paintings and fish restaurants that succeed because resources have been reallocated to them instead.
Trade-tested betterment is the most altruistic of economic systems, because everything is directed toward satisfying ordinary customers."--McCloskey

Golden oldie:
Jocelyn Wildenstein is an over-wealthy New York woman who wanted to take advantage of her wealth and the incredible technology available ...
Chelation is a therapy used to combat heavy metal poisoning. Somehow it has become one of those procedures that attract "Laetrile experts" and the like and and is used for a lot of things, especially artery disease. There is no evidence that it works and a lot of evidence it doesn't--and 30 deaths have occurred with it--but, nonetheless the federal government has just sponsored 37 million dollars in research grants to further investigation. If the Clinton Foundation were involved it would be more understandable but the best explanation seems to be it just isn't their money.

In a similar vein, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has been associated with the passage of kidney stones and some guy from Michigan is looking for grant money to study it.

Funny line in an open letter to the esteemed candidates on their opposition to free trade: "I do want you to know that you and Mr. Trump are merely the latest tools in a long, shameful parade of charlatans and scammers who absurdly promise the masses that greater prosperity is to be had if only they’ll agree to pay higher prices for the goods and services they consume."

A recent article in the WSJ complained that high tech companies were not hiring enough people. But people--workers--are a resource like land or fuel; should not all resources be used economically? Here is part of a letter to the editor: "....[this is the...] ages-old fallacy of judging the worth of firms and industries according to how many workers they employ rather than according to how well they enhance human well-being by increasing the production of consumer goods and services.  If your standard were the appropriate one, there’s an easy solution to the problem that you diagnose: you and others who share your view can hire workers to sit around idly, doing nothing of value.  If you are unwilling to pay people to perform such ‘work,’ you’ve no cause to complain that firms in tech sector do not effectively do the same."

Who is.....Joseph Schumpeter?

Medicare  unveiled a far-reaching overhaul of how it pays doctors and other clinicians. Compensation for medical professionals will start taking into account the quality of service - not just quantity. Imagine. "Quality." As definitive as "beauty?" It will be amazing.

Recent research by Professor Valentina Zharkova (Northumbria University) and colleagues has shed new light on the inner workings of the Sun. If correct, this new discovery means that future solar cycles and variations in the Sun’s activity can be predicted more accurately. The research suggests that the next three solar cycles will see solar activity reduce significantly into the middle of the century, producing conditions similar to those last seen in the 1600s – during the Maunder Minimum. This may have implications for temperatures here on Earth. Future solar cycles will serve as a test of the astrophysicists’ work, but some climate scientists have not welcomed the research and even tried to suppress the new findings. —Global Warming Policy Forum, 9 August 2016
Some [critics] were welcoming and discussing. But some of them were quite — I would say — pushy. They were trying to actually silence us. Some of them contacted the Royal Astronomical Society, demanding, behind our back, that they withdraw our press release. The Royal Astronomical Society replied to them and said, ‘Look, this is the work by the scientists who we support, please discuss this with them.’ –Professor Valentina Zharkova, Global Warming Policy Forum, 9 August 2016

The observable universe is made up of at least two trillion galaxies, according to a new study. That’s 20 times more than had previously been thought. The new estimate comes from a British-led study that used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to create a 3D map of the universe. It was once thought that God was unnecessary to explain the wonders of the universe; now the wonders of the universe are so overwhelming, not even God can explain them.

The world economy is about $75 trillion. Boosting growth by 1 percentage point would require $750 billion in extra annual spending.

Here’s what was very disturbing to me: after the medical episode, she went to her daughter’s apartment and not to an Emergency Room. Secret Service procedure for each detail dictates that everyone knows which hospital to go to depending on the event - heart failure, gunshot, you name it. It is very revealing that, whatever is wrong with her, she is being treated by her own private medical specialists in secret and, judging by the ballet-like reaction by her detail, they have dealt with this before.
Her detail knew that there was something very wrong with her and they were prepared.
---this is from an article by a former secret service agent, Gary Byrne, on Mrs. Clinton's fainting episode blamed on dehydration, then pneumonia.

Gelernter wrote an article on the election and it is brutal. He really hates Clinton. A line from it:  "Why do we insist on women in combat but not in the NFL? Because we take football seriously."

Chesterton on the need for context of virtue:  "The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered…it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful."--G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”

There are many ways to define an economic bubble. One is the expansion of wealth out of proportion to the growth of GDP. The growth of wealth in this country linked to low interest rates, not production, might qualify.

"Can Capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can.” --Schumpeter
Marx believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its enemies (the proletariat), whom capitalism had purportedly exploited, and he relished the prospect. Schumpeter believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes, that it would spawn a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class’s existence. And unlike Marx, Schumpeter did not relish the destruction of capitalism. “If a doctor predicts that his patient will die presently,” he wrote, “this does not mean that he desires it.”--Economic Dictionary

Tyler Cowen believed that the economy involves a continuing struggle among the Three Ss: Stupidity, Schumpeter, and Smith. 

This is an interesting quote from Clinton. "So how are you going to pay for infrastructure jobs and paid family leave?’, I say, ‘Well, I’m telling you how I’m paying for everything,” she said at a campaign event in Seattle, drawing a contrast with GOP nominee Donald Trump.  “I am not going to add a penny to the national debt,” she vowed. “We’re going to go where the money is. We’re going to make the wealthy pay their fair share, and we’re finally going to close those corporate loopholes.” What this really means is that immediately on taking office she’s got to raise taxes by $500 billion. As that is 3.5% or so of GDP an immediate fiscal tightening of that amount would put the US economy back into recession. Oh, well.

Great line from Vernon Smith: State control can never substitute for self-control without destroying freedom and all that is human in both society and economy.

AAAAaaaaaaannnnndddddd......a chart:


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