I’ve been out slogging through literal swamps for the past few days, so I’m catching up on the news, which tells of yet more swamps of the figurative variety. The craving for popcorn is damn near irresistible!
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Betty Crackerhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgBetty Cracker2017-03-28 11:02:072017-03-28 11:02:07Swamps, All the Way Down
“There’s a widespread recognition that the federal government, Congress, has created the right for every American to have health care,” he said, warning that to throw people off their insurance or make coverage unaffordable would only shift costs back to taxpayers by burdening emergency rooms. “If you want to be fiscally responsible, then coverage is better than no coverage.”
And then he was on CNN pitching Cassidy-Collins last night:
! @BillCassidy pitching his Cassidy/Collins health care bill on @CNN: We return power to states
Cassidy-Collins as currently written needs a lot of work. People much smarter and more informed than me have told me that there are significant ERISA issues in Cassidy-Collins as currently written. But as a start of a discussion that could conceivably aim for 65 or more Senators getting on board, this is a vehicle which could entrench the expectation that everyone gets some decent if not great coverage. Read more →
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00David Andersonhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgDavid Anderson2017-03-28 08:53:532017-03-28 08:53:53Keep an eye on Cassidy
Insurers in a free, unregulated market with imperfect information and very expensive right hand tails of risk distribution will quickly converge to offering really bad coverage. This is a sub-optimal for everyone involved. It hurts people who need good coverage. It hurts society in general as risk is not distributed efficiently. It hurts hospitals as it guarantees more bad debt. And it hurts insurers as they are giving up potentially profitable sales in order to protect themselves from a risk dump.
There will be some mathematical intuition required for this post.
Let’s imagine a world that does not involve insurance. Let’s imagine Abe and Bob both sell furnaces to the same small town. They both make a good living. Their products are fundamentally similar. Bob’s furnaces start faster and warm the house quicker, Abe’s machines run quieter. Their current advertising budget is limited to a quarter page Yellow page ad and brightly painted work vans with their phone numbers on it. The market for new furnaces in their region is effectively saturated and it is a steady business.
In the first year, both Abe and Bob make $100,000 in net profits. In the second year Mark the Marketeer offers to sell $10,000 of advertising to Abe and Bob. If one chooses to advertise and the other does not, the advertising furnace guy gets an additional $20,000 in profits but spends $10,000 in advertising. If they both advertise, Mark gets $10,000 from each and there is a decrease in profits of $10,000 from each of Abe and Bob. The pay-off matrix is below:
Let’s work through the decision tree. They start in green. Mark makes the pitch. If Abe advertises, his worst situation is $90,000 and his best is $110,000. If he does not advertise, his worst situation is $80,000 and his best is $100,000. If Bob advertises, his worst situation is $80,000 and his best is $90,000. The same applies in reverse to Bob.
If there is neither regulation nor collusion, both of them will advertise. They will see a decline in profits as Mark acts as middleman. Once advertising starts, the logic has both of them advertising frequently in order to protect their own marketshare. They are in a collective action problem.
Once one plan in a market decides to make themselves as unattractive as possible, every other plan has to either follow suit in making themselves unattractive or be willing to take on massive health costs as they become the preferred plan for HIV positive individuals. At that point, there is a local death spiral as the attractive plan has to raise premiums to cover costs which drives them away from the Second Silver subsidy determination point, which then drives away cost sensitive but fairly healthy individuals from the plan. So a region will see either the “nice” plan become a “nasty” plan as a self-defense measure or that “nice” plan will leave the market so the new baseline is “nasty”. It is Gresham’s law for health insurance.
This problem is solvable. The unregulated equilibrium is for plans to be ugly and for plans to spend a lot of time and money on finding ways not to cover people. Regulation is the key. It sets a different set of parameters or at least it governs the depth of ugliness a plan is allowed to descend to. Essential Health Benefits and actuarial value floors limits how much socially counter-productive but firm specific rational behavior can occur.
And once those counter-productive cherry picking tendencies are curbed, a much larger market emerges. That market, once insurers figure out how to price it properly, can be profitable as hell even as it covers millions of more people.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00David Andersonhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgDavid Anderson2017-03-28 07:00:172017-03-28 08:30:22Collective action problems and races to the bottom
This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.
So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Alain the site fixerhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAlain the site fixer2017-03-28 05:00:272017-03-27 22:39:31On The Road
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Anne Lauriehttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAnne Laurie2017-03-27 23:33:132017-03-27 23:33:13Late Night Open Thread: Pauli Boy (Weak & Nasty, But So Cleverly Marketed)
And here’s where we get to the real problem and my real concern: we have precious few actual subject matter experts regarding North Korea. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this: the Kim family has kept North Korea essentially closed to everyone and everything outside of North Korea while at the same time heavily indoctrinating their own population. A population that is, by the measures we’re aware of, is incredibly impoverished. There are a few Americans that have gotten permission to spend extended periods in North Korea. Two of them have written books/parts of books about this, which are, of course, partially opposed to the other’s theses (h/t: The XX Committee). And there are also defectors to South Korea and other East Asian states. And, of course, the South Koreans have a significant portion of their Intelligence Community focused on their northern neighbor.
But, the real problem here is that we don’t have the ability to know about North Korea the way we do other places. Even when Iran and Cuba were under full US sanctions, we still had some Americans, as well as citizens of other countries traveling to them. Despite the sanctions both countries tried to be engaged with the rest of the world, albeit on their own terms As a result people did advanced academic/scholarly study of both countries, their politics, culture, religion, economics, etc. And because the leadership of each country had not tried to establish complete isolation from the outside world, subject matter expertise, from many different disciplines and approaches, and from many different people in different places developed.
This dearth of expertise – the lack of a significant number of professionals with deep subject matter expertise into the politics, culture, religion/spirituality, economics, kinship dynamics, etc – in regard to North Korea is a significant shortfall that the US, its allies, and partners will have to overcome in regard to adapting existing and developing new policies and strategies, and the contingency planning in regard to the Kim government’s actions. Moreover, this dearth of expertise is, right now, compounded by the new Administration’s falling behind in staffing the critical political appointments at our National Security departments, agencies, and offices. And the folks that are in place holding stopgap positions, and some who are in more permanent ones, do not exactly inspire confidence that they actually have the credentials, knowledge, skills, abilities, and expertise to help overcome this low information gap.
Trying to work through the North Korean problem set of the Kim family government is, itself, a wicked problem. This dearth of expertise comes at a particularly bad time for the US as we’ve moved into what Tom Nichols*, Professor of National Security Affairs at US Naval War College, calls the death of expertise. The Death of Expertise, is, in fact, the title of Nichol’s recent book. And we can see, in the North Korean problem set, the combination of both dearth and depth. For instance, should the US, its allies, and its partners, most likely working in conjunction with the People’s Republic of China, have to respond with military power to either a military provocation ordered by the Kim government or using all elements of National power (diplomatic, information, military, and economic/DIME) to a humanitarian crisis the lack of significant subject matter expertise in regard to North Korea combined with what seems to be key, senior officials’ within the new Administration antagonism towards expertise will make an effective response very difficult to almost impossible.
… all activities directed at establishing favorable conditions for conducting military operations in the theater, generally driven by the support requirements of specific operation plans and other requirements established in the geographic combatant commander’s (GCC) theater campaign plan. Setting the theater includes whole-of-government initiatives such as bilateral or multilateral diplomatic agreements to allow U.S. forces to have access to ports, terminals, airfields, and bases within the area of responsibility (AOR) to support future military contingency operations. Setting the joint operations area (JOA) includes activities such as theater opening, establishing port and terminal operations, conducting reception, staging, onward movement, and integration, force modernization and theater-specific training, and providing Army support to other Services and common-user logistics to Army, joint, and multinational forces operating in the JOA (FM 3-93).
After over a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan we now know, though current doctrine does not reflect it, that there are some other important things to consider when setting the theater. Specifically the broadly defined socio-cultural* context of the host country population among whom we will be operating – regardless of type of operation. Given the dearth of expertise about North Korean society, culture, religion, politics – other than what little we know of the Kim family, their retainers, and their understanding of government and governance, economics, etc we have significant gaps in the contextual knowledge we need to properly set the theater. For instance, if Myers is correct that the Kim family and their retainers have heavily propagandized the North Korean population for going on four or five generations, then simply being concerned with where to put phase lines and base troops and establish MSRs and logistics routes and/or emplace artillery is going to be insufficient as we will be operating among a population that has been acculturated and socialized to despise and distrust everyone but their own government and people. No matter how good our planners and logisticians are, without subject matter experts with deep expertise into North Korea’s different socio-cultural components, any operation – military or humanitarian – to provide inputs on how North Koreans are going to respond as people, is going to be fraught with more danger than normally accompanies such operations. To use Clausewitzian terms: responding to provocation by the Kim government or to the humanitarian needs of the North Koreans themselves, will be a response plagued by significantly more fog and friction than we have ever encountered before. And that means developing effective strategies to respond to the Kim government’s actions is going to be very, very, very difficult.
* I have never met Professor Nichols. I did correspond with him once by email, to send him a report I had done in 2011 on a topic he’d just written a column on and managed to send him a corrupted file – as in the file name was right, the title on the first page was right, but something not germane (and largely not coherent) had been saved as the document. And I didn’t bother to open the file and check it before emailing it across as an attachment to an email introducing myself. 10/10, big win, would do it again!
** The only official doctrine/concept definition that we have of culture comes to us from CJCSI 1800.01E, the Officers Professional Military Education Policy (OPMEP). The definition is also mirrored in the Enlisted Professional Military Education Policy (EPMEP). No two doctrinal publications within the Army have the same definition for culture, hence the need to defer to this default joint definition. This definition is:
An interconnected set of ideas; all the information passed on between generations through language, writing, mathematics, and behavior. The distinctive and deeply rooted beliefs, values, ideology, historic traditions, social forms, perceptual predispositions, and behavioral patterns of a group, organization, or society that is learned, evolves and adapts over time, and is transmitted to succeeding generations.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2017-03-27 21:32:472017-03-27 21:36:59The Dearth of Expertise: My Concerns with the Recent Actions by the North Korean Government
I don’t link to TPM much because I figure everyone reads it, but I this is an important point:
Perhaps the White House had planned all along for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make an appearance at today’s press briefing to rail against sanctuary cities. But the timing is consistent with what I’ve long feared will be the impulse for the Trump administration: When the going gets rough (failed Obamacare repeal, low poll numbers, etc), it will fall back on appeals to racism and xenophobia to regain political footing.
I assume that at some point, as Trump’s approval ratings sink lower, there will be some kind of international conflict he and Bannon provoke to get people (especially the media) to rally around Dear Leader.
In case your day needs some cuteness, foster puppies!
Friend of mine, LFern, is fostering…again. She and the rest of the Fern family have been very successfully fostering this past year (since losing their beloved Kodiak).
Doing the foster dog thing again. This time I have a mama and 8 puppies. There were 9, but only 8 by the time they got to me. I’ve never had puppies this young. They are so adorable. they should be weaned in about 2 weeks, neutered about two weeks after that (at 8 weeks old) and then ready for adoption. Let me know if you need a puppy or check with Weld County Humane Society. Lolly the mom is an amazing dog too.
Previous fosters have all been successfully placed..now we’ll need homes for these guys. We’re going to go see them this week, I can’t wait. Bixby won’t be able to do his foster magic (he’s been so good with all her fosters) until they are much older, so he and Bailey will have to stay home for now.
Lolly, the mom, has already stolen my heart.
To see individual photos of the whole gang, click here (I could not get them to embed properly and didn’t have time to upload them again).
Also, Writing Group update – anyone who wants to write up something about their experience of self-publishing or traditional publishing, please email me. (whats4dinnersolutions at live dot com)
I like to try to keep an eye on what’s going on in the world of right-wing media and blogs, but I find reading Fox, let alone, Breitbart, just too soul-crushing to do on a regular basis. I read alicublog and I’ve started following Will Sommer on twitter (he’s the guy who had all the great pictures of the Pizzagate rally). Sommer also has an excellent newsletter.
What do you guys read to keep up with the wingnutosphere?
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Doug!https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgDoug!2017-03-27 15:08:462017-03-27 15:08:46I can see for miles and miles
Jon Ossoff is polling well ahead of the Republicans in the jungle primary in GA-6 and polls show him neck-and-neck in the general. This would be a big win for Dems and would scare the shit out of the Republicans in Congress. So make it rain.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Doug!https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgDoug!2017-03-27 12:42:512017-03-27 12:42:51Ain't too proud to beg
I admit that’s a high bar in these turbulent days, but this new Trumpstunt is such a shining stinking exemplar of every half-bright, wholly-dishonest sackful of grift and self-deception that I’m not sure it won’t have been declared inoperative by the time this is scheduled to show up on the front page. From the Washington Post:
President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.
The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements…
In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.
The work of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon has drawn considerable attention, especially after his call for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” But Bannon will have no formal role in the innovation office, which Trump advisers described as an incubator of sleek transformation as opposed to deconstruction…
Bannon’s a mucker and a mean drunk, but he’s not dumb or vicious enough to let his name be associated with this disaster-in-the-making. Take it away, internets!…
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Anne Lauriehttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAnne Laurie2017-03-27 10:13:372017-03-27 08:16:28Jared Kushner's "SWAT Team": Early Contender for Dumbest Idea of the Week
While it is far too soon to suggest that the House Republican majority may be imperiled, Democrats are newly optimistic about picking up seats in 2018, hoping to ride a backlash against Mr. Trump. Seeing an opportunity, they say they will not throw Mr. Trump a political life preserver at what they sense could be the first turns of a downward spiral.
The president’s approval rating was already mired below 40 percent in some surveys, and is likely to remain low after the health bill’s failure. He has no prospects for legislative victories on the immediate horizon, given how complicated and time-consuming his next priority, an overhaul of the tax code, would be even for a more unified party.
And while his electoral success in states represented by Democrats in Congress had been thought to put such lawmakers in a vise between their party and their president, Mr. Trump demonstrated no ability to pick off centrist Democrats in his first significant legislative push. Democrats — red-state moderates and blue-state liberals alike — formed an unbroken front of opposition to the repeal-and-replace campaign…
Though the ability of Democrats to do much more than say no remains limited, their success in helping to thwart Mr. Trump will not only embolden them to confront him again — it will also inspire activists to push them to do whatever it takes to block his path.
“Having tasted victory, the resistance forces will feel even more empowered to insist that Democrats continue withholding any cooperation and not granting Trump any victories when he is so wounded,” said Brian Fallon, a Democratic strategist…
Cult-of-the-Savvy high priest and Politico founder Mike Allen, at his new brand Axios:
… It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.
This virtually guarantees no substantive legislative achievements in the first 100 days. And it creates rifts and suspicions and second-guessing that make governing much harder.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Anne Lauriehttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAnne Laurie2017-03-27 06:47:342017-03-27 06:47:34Monday Morning Open Thread: The End of the Beginning