Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fedex vs Healthcare

Today President Obama produced this quote "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems." He intended to illustrate how private health insurance would continue to do just fine under his new health care legislation. What he really demonstrated was both a complete lack of understanding of capitalism and how government control will destroy private industry. The first question that should be asked is "Why are UPS and Fedex turning a profit?" That is a simple one to answer. They provide a service that fills a need for their customers and for that service they receive payment in kind. The price for that service is determined by the cost to the business to perform that service. In the process they compete against each other and are forced by competition to adjust their prices and services to get the most profit from each transaction while attempting to undercut the price of the other guy.

That is the most basic rule of capitalism and can be applied to any form of business from moving a package to selling apples. The Post Office however does not, is not, allowed to function under this rule. The Post Office must charge a rate established by the government for each service it provides regardless of the cost to the Post Office for that service. The services it is allowed to provide are not set by market demand but by fiat from on high. The price to deliver a letter to the most out of the way location is the same as to the house next door. Restrictions set by the government prevent them from using as simple a marketing techniques as location, location, location.

Have you ever wondered why there is never a big blue mail box next to the grocery store, or at the big gas station? It is because the government does not want to appear to give the one store an edge over the other. So the boxes are placed where they will give no one an advantage. The result of this is the Post Office's hands are tied in the world of competition. However from the consumer side the Post Office is the best deal going. As I said for less than 50 cents a person will show up at your house, pick up a letter and another person will hand deliver that letter to the most out of the way location you can think of a day or two later. Fedex will charge you about twenty four dollars for the same service. It is no wonder the Post Office lost seven billion dollars last year. Fedex or UPS would quickly go out of business trying compete with the Post Office if they were forced to charge the same low rate of 50 cents or so for a letter. Of course the government supported the operating costs of the Post Office, with your tax dollars I might add. This support allows them to continue to operate against their competition despite the losses.

And that is where the health plan that Obama wants would spell the death of private health insurance. He does not understand if the government supplies insurance in competition with private industry. He has only two choices for a business plan. He must either require the new Gov. Health Inc. to provide insurance at a cost ratio to the public similar to the Post Office vs. Fedex i.e. 50 cents against $24. He must then support the losses to Gov. Health Inc. with tax dollars (our money) to allow them to continue to operate against their competition. His only other choice is to force the private insurance companies to provide the same services at the same price as Gov. Health Inc. Since the second option disregards things like operating expenses or profit it would quickly kill the private businesses.

Since our President has never run a business or even worked for one for very long I can believe he fails to understand the effect his plan will have. But at the same time I cannot believe no one advising him can have such a complete lack of understanding. This leaves only one last option, they are planning this with full knowledge of the effect it will have on everyone in the country. No wonder the Town Hall meetings are so filled with anger, everyone may not have thought it out the same way, or come to the same conclusion. But everyone knows they are on the loosing end of the deal and they don't like it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Control the Horizontal....

The old Outer Limits program always opened with the line, "We control the horizontal, we control the vertical." In today's world of the net filled with blogs, tweets and video posts the best you can hope for is that the people controlling the horizontal and vertical are fair with their control. Let's face it blogger's and posters live and die on the hits. Everyone wants their blog to have a million hits, their video to be number one in views. As a result though we have to rely on the hosts supporting us to be honest.

With that said I find it interesting that this video of the mugging of a vendor by Union thugs at the recent Russ Carnahan Town Hall meeting in St Louis Missouri has a problem with the VIEWS counter.

Fight at Russ Carnahan Town Hall Event

When I first viewed the video I noticed a comment posted six hours prior said "WOW this one got to 315 views.....interesting. "

Five hours after the first mention dfitler said "Hmmm - stats say this video is the #11 most discussed and as of 4 hours ago has 315 views. Odd... it still shows only 315 views, and at least TWO more people have viewed it. Is it possible there is some massaging of the stats by YouTube? Makes me wonder...."

Yes it does since his comment was one hour before me and the views counter had not changed by then and what was really interesting was that it still had only 315 views six hours later when I viewed it.

I must confess I don't know how Youtube tracks views, I don't know how often they update their counters and that is the point. We don't know, but we must trust that they are playing fair with all parties.

The videos on Youtube are becoming more and more political. The sources for news are shifting from the big three on TV or the big four on cable to the millions on Twitter, Youtube, Podcasts, and Blogs. This isn't a revelation, just a statement of fact. But how everyone finds those sources is a subject of dark mystery.

I did a search on Bing for "number one political podcast" and got this as the first listing:

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Podcast « - Blogs ...
May 1, 2009 ... CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider looks at the latest numbers in a new poll. ... CNN=Politics Daily is The Best Political Podcast ...

Really? They are the best, the biggest the one deserving of top billing? Ok, maybe I needed to refine my search, so I entered "most popular political podcast" in Google instead of Bing.

Guess what I got:

The Broad View: Wes Clark's is "...the most popular political ...
And now his podcast is right now the most popular political podcast in the nation. The third installment of Clark's audiotaped thoughts ranks ahead of Sean ...

Give me a break! Does Google really mean to tell me that Westley Clark's Podcast is the most popular podcast in the nation? It was number two in the stack behind the Podcast Pickle. How the heck did it get up to number two and who the heck is the Podcast Pickle? CNN had however fallen to number seven on Google.

Well let's try Blogs. How about "number one political blog" on Bing. Well you get Technorati.com as the number one result. They list the Huffington Post as the number one blog, "by authority" what ever that is. I'm not sure the Huffy is a blog anymore but I'll give it the top slot. The next 28 entries are however all tech blogs not political sites.

Maybe TV is the place to go. So we'll try "cable news network ratings" in Bing. The number 2 listing i.e the second highest rated site in the world, according to BING, to find information on cable news is.....


Yep this information filled site says "As of May 1st, 2009 I will no longer report the ratings for the O'Reilly Factor, or any other news show on tv. I do not care about ratings for news shows, none of them."

Glad we settled that.

The end result of all of this is in my opinion, the Left/Progressive movement has it all tied up. In all those searches I did not find one Right/Conservative site. Not Rush Limbaugh, not Glenn Beck, no Sean or O'reilly, I did not even get a single listing for the Drudge Report who can lay claim to over 8 billion hits in the last year. The way the numbers get counted dramatically effects the way you find information. Even the appearance of juggling the books is bad.

By the way the Youtube video that started all this has now climbed up to 393 views.

But now I can't help but wonder if someone in Youtube central saw that the lack of change had been spotted and so decided they need to control the horizontal and control the vertical, just a little bit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Glorious Leader is Listening...Always Listening

Many years ago as a G.I. I was part of a small team traveling around Europe working on electronic equipment at many of the Air Force bases in Germany and other countries. In the process I and a handful of team members had a chance to travel into East Berlin several times. This was the during the Cold War, tensions were high between us and the USSR. The border guards at Check Point Charlie were not friendly at all. They killed a couple of people trying to escape to the west while we were there. An Army Captain was shot by the secret police for taking pictures in the wrong place shortly before one of our trips in. So things were tight to say the least.

Now I have to confess the first time we went into the East I didn't know what it would be like. I expected to see drab people wearing gray clothing, (I really did think Mao coats and those stupid hats) going from place to place quietly under the watchful eye of their oppressors. I was sure they were always being spied on by each other and the Stasi so that there could be no dissent. Hell, how did I know I was wrong about the clothes. The East Berliners dressed just like the folks in any other European city. Of course I was right about the other points.

We were briefed before hand that we would be followed by the East German Secret Police the Stasi, and we would be approached by seeming civilians who would ask us questions we might not want to answer. We had to remove our name tags and if asked, we were not to identify ourselves to anyone but a Russian officer. During one of our trips in we took the opportunity to play with a guy who started following us. We let him chase us through a big department store and then chased him around for a while just to let him know we could play that game as well. Buck, if you're out there, remember when... Eventually the Stasi guy went away and came back with five or six other officers and so took all the fun out of the game.

The point of this old and long war story is that the people in East Berlin really were watched all the time. They feared their government they feared their neighbors, they feared their neighbor's children, heck they feared their own children. Their kids were so used to "knowing" it was correct and right to report dissent they had no problem reporting their parents. No one knew who would be willing to turn them in for voicing an opinion that was not approved by the Government. Saying or doing something out of line could and did bring down the Stasi on you. Maybe you lost your job, or maybe you lost some privileges, or maybe you just disappeared.

Today I read an article from Drudge about Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. He is concerned about a new program that "that asks members of the public to flag “fishy” claims about President Obama’s health care plans".


Ok, so what was that all about. Well it is about something very frightening when looked at through the eyes of someone who has seen oppression in action.

Follow the link to whitehouse.gov

There you will find a very slick video blog by Linda Douglass. Well produced, good camera angles and excellent closeups. She will tell you one of her jobs is to track dis-information about health care reform. Really? The White House has a person who's job entails tracking information posted on the Internet to make sure it meets their standards of accuracy? How does she do that? The interWEB is big, so does she have a staff? If so how many, 10, 20, more? How much is that costing us? What kind of search engine do they use to identify dis-information, can I get a copy of that?

Whether the plan is good, bad or indifferent is not the issue.

The issue is the slow growth of suppression and intimidation that seems to be peeking around the corners of our society.

The following quote is directly from the White House i.e. from the President of the United States.

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

Let's break that down a little.

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

So if you get that email from Aunt Bertha telling you the plan will put your insurance company out of business just what do you do, exactly? Does that mean the President wants you to forward that email from your Aunt on to whoever runs flag@whitehouse.gov or would you only have to give them her email address and tell the "man" what she said? What happens after your rat your Aunt out? Does someone from the government send her an email telling her she is wrong, will she get a call, a letter, maybe a little visit? If you hear something in casual conversation that you think is "fishy" again, just what does the White House want you to do about it? Can you just report to flag@whitehouse.gov that on such and such a date Bob Jones told me this at lunch and I think he is spreading dis-information about the plan. If the reporting is anonymous you could really sting your boss or that co-worker you don't like. Hey, they brought it up, I just want to know what they really mean.

Glenn Beck identified a problem with the Cash for Clunkers program. It allowed the government full access to all of the dealers files on the PC used to submit vouchers. This would include emails, your financial data, their financial data, everything. This raised many questions about things like multiple user accounts for dealers working at home. He was vilified for about three days and then the government changed the program. Oppsie!

A few weeks ago Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook was fired for his action in questioning Obama's citizenship.


Without arguing the merits of the case. Doesn't it worry you just a little bit that the full weight of the Dept of Defense was brought down on a citizen to insure retribution was metered out?

Have we really reached the point of the East Berliners? Say something the state does not approve of and, maybe someone from your government will come and have a little talk with you, maybe you will loose your job, or maybe you loose some privileges (like access to the internet), or maybe, just maybe one day you just disappear.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Left and PeeWee Herman

Years ago, we were all fascinated with a character called Pee Wee Herman. He truly was the origin of a brand of humor now filled with folks like Borat and Bruno, or Adam Sandler. Aside from an unfortunate incident in a dark room in Florida Pee Wee's main claim to fame was repeating the inane phrase, "I know you are, but what am I". This level of humor was the height of skill at age 8 and a mockery at age 35.

Move now to today's focal point of Liberal commentary, the Huffington Post. The Huffy is where all liberal and left leaning individuals go to expound on their beliefs and to read the comments of those who feel as they do; to opine as it were. I'm sure most Huffies feel secure in their liberalism, happy that they have found a home filled with like minded folks. Then unfortunately along comes a conservative or two who want to join in the fun and well, there goes the neighborhood.

I find it interesting that for a group of people who portray themselves as open to a broad range of freedoms they are some of the tightest minded people around. If you express a thought outside of their small range of acceptability the insults start to fly. Now in all honesty I enjoy a good witty come back, taking a reply and using it to skewer your opponent with it. On of my favorite phrases is "Sir draw forth your wit and defend yourself, if you can." However I am amazed at the level of wit a valiant Huffy will dive for is always so low.

I thought a few examples were in order. These gems of verbal skill were selected from comments on the Birther movement. They are intended as replies to comments made by others:

The birther movement is merely hooded and cloaked pure racism.

Q: Why did the Birther couple decide to have only 4 children?

A: They'd read in the newspaper that one out of every five babies born in the world today is Chinese.

Q: Why did the Birther cross the road?
A: He couldn't get his d*ck out of the chicken.

A Birther State Trooper patrolling a deserted stretch of highway came upon a naked man tied to a tree by the side of the road. He stopped his cruiser, got out, and asked the man what happened. "I picked up a hitchhiker, he robbed me, took my clothes and tied me to this tree!" The Birther Trooper unzipped his fly and said, "Well today's just not your day, is it?"

Some of these comments were in response to an article about Lou Dobbs and some from a Bill Maher article.

How are we as a country going to solve any problem when it appears the opposing view is incapable of holding up its' side of the argument? We can expect few solutions to anything as long as an adult comment from our side receives a Pee Wee answer from theirs.