Another Gem from Seth Godin

Every person in your organization needs to wear a button.

And they can choose one of two. The choice is up to them, but they have to own it.

One button says, “I don’t care.”

The other button says, “I’d like to help.”

It’s entirely possible that you’ve managed your way into a bureaucracy that acts like it’s wearing the first button. If that’s true, admit it and have you and your team put on the buttons. You’ll save a lot of heartache by telling us and your co-workers the truth.

On the other hand, if you want the satisfaction that comes from wearing the second button, you’ve got to keep the promise.

Yeah, I’m looking at you Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Health Insurance Rant

Health insurance enrollment declined among people who do not qualify for financial help under ObamaCare as premiums rose to make coverage less affordable, new federal data shows. 

The data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday shows that enrollment declined by 1.2 million people, or 24 percent, between 2017 and 2018 among people with incomes too high to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies.  [emphasis added]

In contrast, in the same period, enrollment ticked up by 300,000 people among those with lower incomes who did qualify for financial help under ObamaCare. The data illustrates that while ObamaCare remains stable given the subsidies available to lower-income people, premium increases helped drive away people with higher incomes, experts said.

Let’s read part of that quote again:

…enrollment declined by 1.2 million people, or 24 percent… among people with incomes too high to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies .

This does not surprise me in the least. Having been in the health insurance industry for over 25 years, I witnessed the change to Obamacare. It works great if you qualify for a subsidy, but it crushes you if you don’t. It’s simply unaffordable for many. Here’s a real-life example:

The cheapest Obamacare plan a family of five in my area can get will cost them over $2,600/month. That’s over $31,000/year! Did I mention it has a $6,600 deductible? So they’re in for a minimum of $37,600 before the insurance company pays a dime. How do they afford that?

Then there is the argument, “They probably make a lot of money since they don’t qualify for a subsidy” That’s relative, but let’s talk about it since you brought it up. There are two big problems with the subsidies and how they work.

  1. If anyone in the family has health insurance offered to them by their employer and it’s affordable, then the family is not eligible for the subsidy. What’s affordable, you ask? If the employee’s portion of the premium is less than about 9.5% of his income it’s affordable. Since employers are penalized for offering coverage that is unaffordable, most employers work it out so the employee’s cost – for just the employee – is affordable. If the employee earns around $50,000/year and has health insurance offered to him that costs him less than about $400/month (just for him), it considered affordable by the Wizards of Smart in DC.
  2. The subsidy is supposed to gradually get smaller as you get closer to the income threshold for the subsidy, which is 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit. It worked fairly well in the beginning, but now the calculation is such that it is a cliff. For the family above, here are the subsidies at various family income amounts:
    • At $60,000 the monthly subsidy is up to $3,059
    • At $80,000 the monthly subsidy is up to $2,792
    • At $100,000 the monthly subsidy is up to $2,572
    • At $117,000 the monthly subsidy is up to $2,437
    • At $118,000 the monthly subsidy is $0

Look at the last two bullet points. That’s quite a cliff. And here’s how they make it even tougher. You have to predict your income for the year before the year begins!

Imagine you’re a salesman on commission and you’ve averaged about $100,000/year in income for the last several years. Congratulations! That’s a great income. You’ve been on Obamacare for the last several years and you’ve taken the subsidy you’re allowed and paying about $200/month in premiums. Everything is peachy.

In 2019 you knock the cover off the ball with your sales. You have a banner year. You’re going to easily clear $120,000 this year and you have talked to your wife about a big family vacation to celebrate.

Then you do your taxes. You find out a) you owe your $30,000 in subsidies back to the gubment, AND b) you have now have to pay the entire premium so your health insurance premiums next year go from $150-$200/month to $2,600/month. It happens. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not pretty.

Very few people know exactly how much they are going to make in the coming year. Job changes, extra money from a side job, spouse takes a part-time job (or gets more hours than they planned), or God forbid you get a raise!

So Old Man, what you would you do about it? That’s a question for another post, or series of them. This is just a rant to show one of the problems with Obamacare

NOTE: I generally refer to this health insurance as ACA coverage (Affordable Care Act). I talk about Obamacare in this post because that’s what it’s called in the article above.

Government Allocation of Resources is a Zero-Sum Game

More wisdom from Walter Williams.

It’s a rare occasion, if ever, that one sees the kind of conflict between wine, music and automobile lovers that we see about schooling issues. Why? While government allocation of resources is a zero-sum game – one person’s win is another’s loss – market allocation is not. Market allocation is a positive-sum game where everybody wins.

Here’s the full text:

Increased division is not Trump’s fault

Walter E. Williams: The greater the number of decisions made by gov’t, the greater the conflict

Read more at We are living in a time of increasing domestic tension. Some of it stems from the presidency of Donald Trump. Another part of it is various advocacy groups on both sides of the political spectrum demanding one cause or another. But nearly totally ignored is how growing government control over our lives, along with the betrayal of constitutional principles, contributes the most to domestic tension. Let’s look at a few examples.

Think about primary and secondary schooling. I think that every parent has the right to decide whether his child will recite a morning prayer in school. Similarly, every parent has the right to decide that his child will not recite a morning prayer. The same can be said about the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, sex education and other hot-button issues in education. These become contentious issues because schools are owned by the government.

In the case of prayers, there will either be prayers or no prayers in school. It’s a political decision whether prayers will be permitted or not, and parent groups with strong preferences will organize to fight one another. A win for one parent means a loss for another parent. The losing parent will be forced to either concede or muster up private school tuition while continuing to pay taxes for a school for which he has no use. Such a conflict would not arise if education were not government-produced but only government-financed, say through education vouchers. Parents with different preferences could have their wishes fulfilled by enrolling their child in a private school of their choice. Instead of being enemies, parents with different preferences could be friends.

People also have strong preferences for goods and services. Some of us have strong preferences for white wine and distaste for reds while others have the opposite preference – strong preferences for red wine. Some of us love classical music while others love rock ‘n’ roll music. Some of us love Mercedes-Benz while others love Lincoln Continentals. When’s the last time you heard red wine drinkers in conflict with white wine drinkers? Have you ever seen classical music lovers organizing against rock ‘n’ roll lovers or Mercedes-Benz lovers in conflict with Lincoln Continental lovers?

People have strong preferences for these goods just as much as they may have strong preference for schooling. It’s a rare occasion, if ever, that one sees the kind of conflict between wine, music and automobile lovers that we see about schooling issues. Why? While government allocation of resources is a zero-sum game – one person’s win is another’s loss – market allocation is not. Market allocation is a positive-sum game where everybody wins. Lovers of red wine, classical music and Mercedes-Benz get what they want while lovers of white wine, rock ‘n’ roll music and Lincoln Continentals get what they want. Instead of fighting one another, they can live in peace and maybe be friends.

It would be easy to create conflict among these people. Instead of market allocation, have government, through a democratic majority-rule process, decide what wines, music and cars would be produced. If that were done, I guarantee that red wine lovers would organize against white wine lovers, classical music lovers against rock ‘n’ roll lovers and Mercedes-Benz lovers against Lincoln Continental lovers.

Conflict would emerge solely because the decision was made in the political arena. Again, the prime feature of political decision-making is that it’s a zero-sum game. One person’s win is of necessity another person’s loss. If red wine lovers win, white wine lovers would lose. As such, political allocation of resources enhances conflict while market allocation reduces conflict. The greater the number of decisions made in the political arena, the greater the potential for conflict. That’s the main benefit of limited government.

Unfortunately, too many Americans want government to grow and have more power over our lives. That means conflict among us is going to rise.

An Argument Against Reparations

I saw this a few days ago and thought it was well said.

I am an entrepreneur who has lived the American dream—having received a world-class education, built businesses, raised a remarkable family and, unlike most white Americans, earned a Super Bowl ring. Because of work I’ve never done, stripes I’ve never had, under a whip I’ll never know, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren and others want to give me free stuff. Never mind that it will be taken from others, who also dreamed, worked and sacrificed to earn it.

At the core of the reparation movement is a divisive and demeaning view of both races. It grants to the white race a wicked superiority, treating them as an oppressive people too powerful for black Americans to overcome. It brands blacks as hapless victims devoid of the ability, which every other culture possesses, to assimilate and progress. Neither label is earned.

The reparations movement conveniently forgets the 150 years of legal, social and economic progress attained by millions of American minorities. It also minimizes the sacrifice that hundreds of thousands of white Americans and a Republican president made laying down their lives to eradicate slavery.

Burgess Owens’ op-ed in the Wall Street JournalI Didn’t Earn Slavery Reparations, and I Don’t Want Them

The Diminishing Value of the Truth

The problem here is the lack of power that the truth has on members of the Democrat Party.

Rush Limbaugh, May 1, 2019

He was talking about the Democrats but it applies to most, if not all, politicians. They just don’t care about the truth. They are to the point where they are more comfortable telling lies (or whatever euphemism you want to use) than they are telling the truth. It’s all very sad.