Republicans Are Bad For Your Health

This is just a drive-by sidelight on Richard’s brief — but its worth taking a look at this explainer from the Upshot.

The good news:  Obamacare is doing what it set out to do.  Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz write that

The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.

Each of these trends is going in the opposite direction of larger economic patterns. Young people have fared substantially worse in the job market than older people in recent years. Blacks and Hispanics have fared worse than whites and Asians. Rural areas have fallen further behind larger metropolitan areas.

Women are the one modest exception. They have benefited more from Obamacare than men, and they have received larger raises in recent years. But of course women still make considerably less money than men, so an economic benefit for women still pushes against inequality in many ways. [all links in the original]

Rembrandt_Christ_Healing_the_Sick

The bad news:  it sucks to be ruled by the Republican cabal.  Or rather, it’s great if your state government actually managed to get used to the idea of Free Money! (h/t the indispensable Charles Pierce):

Despite many Republican voters’ disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians. Of course, the fact that Republican areas showed disproportionate insurance gains does not mean that only Republicans signed up; there are many Democrats living in even the most strongly Republican regions of the country.

But for the rest…

There are still a lot of uninsured people remaining, many in the places that had high uninsured rates last year.

Where would those folk live?  Check out the last map in the piece.  No one here will be surprised.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Preaching (Christ Healing the Sick — the hundred guilder print), 1646-50.



Hoist with His Own Teaturd

I’m not sure tribble-topped presidential aspirant Rand Paul recovers from this:

In a variety of campaign appearances that were captured on video, Paul repeatedly compared Reagan unfavorably to Carter on one of Paul’s top policy priorities: government spending. When Paul was a surrogate speaker for his father, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), during the elder Paul’s 2008 presidential quest, his sales pitch included dumping on Reagan for failing to rein in federal budget deficits. Standing on the back of a truck and addressing the crowd at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers picnic in July 2007, Rand Paul complained about Reagan and praised his father for having opposed Reagan’s budget…”

David Corn’s Mother Jones article linked above includes six video clips of Baby Doc slagging on Reagan as a spendthrift as the younger Paul campaigned for his daddy. What Paul says about Reagan exploding the debt is all true, of course.

And it’s not wise to underestimate the Republican base’s capacity to ignore facts and focus on shiny objects: That’s how they came to deify the folksy, addled, debt-exploding Z-grade actor as an exemplar of fiscal rectitude in the first place.

But imagine the field day Paul’s primary opponents will have parading this heresy before the cameras at every debate. The message that Reagan actually was a profligate spendthrift won’t sink in, but the fact that Paul unfavorably compared Baby Jeebus Reagan to Satan’s Valet Carter sure will.



Kill at Will bill moves forward in Ohio

Weapon industry lobbyists drafted a stand your ground law for Ohio. It passed the lower chamber in this state last week:

Opponents including black legislators, youth and church groups decried the dangers of an Ohio “stand your ground” self-defense proposal on Wednesday, as the expansive gun measure cleared the state House. Protesters at one point interrupted the lengthy debate, their shouts gaveled down by House Speaker William Batchelder, before the measure passed on a 62-27 vote. It now goes to the Senate.
Under current law, residents need not retreat before using force if they are lawfully in their homes, vehicles or the vehicle of an immediate family member. The measure would expand the circumstances where the use of force trumps the duty to retreat to public settings, such as stores and streets.

Industry lobbyists (both paid and the volunteers) will say that they are making only minor changes to self defense laws, but that is not true. This is what the changes to long-standing Ohio self-defense law actually look like. The traditional definition of self-defense is lined-thru and the new definition of self defense follows the part that lobbyists deleted:

Sec. 2901.09. (A) As used in this section, “residence” and “vehicle” have the same meanings as in section 2901.05 of the Revised Code.

(B) For purposes of any section of the Revised Code that sets forth a criminal offense, a person who lawfully is in that person’s residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, and a person who lawfully is an occupant of that person’s vehicle or who lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another if that person is in a place that the person lawfully has a right to be.

The bill also lowers the standards across the board to where we’ll now issue concealed carry licenses to just about anyone who shows up and also allow these newly-licensed gun enthusiasts to patrol just about anywhere with only 4 hours of training. Apparently 12 hours of training before they appoint themselves as roving fake-police in “stores and streets” was too much of a burden for them:

Eliminate the requirement that a person reside in Ohio to receive or renew a concealed handgun license;
Eliminate the current 12-hour training requirement, substituting a minimum of four training hours in the safe handling and use of a firearm;

The Buckeye Firearms Foundation pushed the Stand Your Ground law in Ohio, along with the reduced training requirement. This weapon industry lobby group are famous for raising money to buy George Zimmerman some additional firepower after Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed 17 year old:

zimmerman-thankyou-letter-small

Zimmerman is the brave gunslinger who has been the victim of a truly remarkable (and, frankly, completely unbelievable) series of unprovoked attacks by the following people: his former girlfriend, a law enforcement official, a 17 year old boy, his wife and/or his elderly father-in-law and, most recently, another of his girlfriends.



His “sense” is this is very much like subprime lending

Since this scam has been going on for a long, long time, I don’t think he would be my first-choice investment adviser:

Hedge fund titan and education reform activist Whitney Tilson turned his Value Investing Congress speech Tuesday into an all-out attack against technology-based education company K12, calling it “a catastrophe for education” in spite of solid financials.
But even more damning for K12, which runs online schools at various levels, was Tilson’s decision to publicly short the company’s stock—a move that can be risky for high profile investors, attracting regulators and legal action from disgruntled CEOs. If K12’s stock indeed plummets in the coming months, Tilson and other short sellers stand to make a lot of money.
Tilson outlined his exhaustive research on K12’s academic practices, including poorly paid instructors with 300-1 student-teacher ratios, the targeting of at-risk children whose parents won’t complain to administrators about poor performance, and online classes for which students merely have to switch on their phones and login to be counted as active.
But Tilson also noted K12’s financials, which up to this point have been strong: the company has experienced revenue growth of 32% annually for the past decade. What’s more, the company estimates a $15 billion market for K12 students, and average revenue per student has risen over the last four quarters.

Well, a degenerate gambler and a finance-industry felon created K12, which was a bit of a red flag for this “investor” but apparently not for the hedge fund managers who make up “Democrats for Education Reform.”

It’s strange to watch this slowly spread upward to the highest levels of reform industry leadership, because here in Ohio where ed reform is a huge business we’ve had a failing cybercharter industry sector for many years. I first became aware of this particular ed reform portfolio investment several years ago, when some of the most vulnerable kids we encountered in the court system stopped attending local public high schools and decided to leverage the free market power of “choice” by signing up for cyberschool.

That many of them are completely unsupervised at home for a variety of reasons and chose this option to avoid intrusive questions from the “educrats” at our government school on their GPA, progress toward graduation, mental health issues and chaotic and often tragic home lives didn’t seem to concern national ed reform industry leaders like Jeb Bush and John Kasich but we wondered at the time if cutting them loose like that was a very bad idea. It had come to our attention that many of them do poorly in school not because their teachers belong to a union but because their home lives are an absolute horror show. It reached the point a couple of years ago where even the most conservative juvenile judge I’m in front of took to bellowing at us that these kids should all be “IN SCHOOL!” Incredibly, ed reform industry lobbyists in Ohio just expanded cybercharters. Again.

As anyone who has watched Milton Friedman’s crackpot theories go from roundtable to reality already knows, it is really, really difficult to regulate a publicly-funded private entity once deregulation and then industry capture of politicians takes hold. We know it in Ohio, and they’re finding it out in Pennsylvania, where a cybercharter profiteer inexplicably escaped state oversight and regulation for years, until he was finally indicted by the feds last month.

I hope this reform industry leader’s shorting strategy works, because K12 just captured another student sector, in New Jersey, despite the fact that the giant ed corp has failed so miserably everywhere else. Whether the following is related to that decision I do not know:

Christie’s acting education commissioner, Christopher Cerf, has experience in public-private school partnerships. He previously led Edison Schools, a for-profit company that became the largest private-sector manager of public schools. From 1999 to 2001, Christie was a registered lobbyist at a law firm that lobbied New Jersey government on behalf of Edison Schools, according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. While the firm was representing the multinational education company, Chris Cerf was its general counsel. The firm, Dughi, Hewit and Palatucci, also represented Mosaica Education, a for-profit charter school operator, and the University of Phoenix, a for-profit online university.

Since we already know that for-profit colleges are a predatory rip-off and nearly impossible to regulate due to industry capture of politicians on both sides of the aisle, can anyone tell me why we decided to expand this bad idea? Are we really this fucking reckless and stupid, that we’d privatize our K thru 12 public education system? Tell me there’s a responsible adult somewhere in the state or federal government who has a handle on this, because I’m not seeing anyone step up here in The Heartland and Arne Duncan seems to me to have abandoned traditional public schools completely.



Lieberdouche, Medicare for All, 218, 50, 1

Jay Ackroyd laughs when I state that there is serious path dependency issues on transitioning the US health finance and health care providing systems from the current set of kludges that are based on heavy but hidden governmental involvement in both for most working age adults, and then single payer systems for the elderly, the disabled and the poor.

He thinks that path dependency can be waived away by changing the eligibility age  for Medicare.

The US has a single payer system in place already. Just change the Medicare eligibility age. Set premiums. Compete!

If my memory serves me correctly, there was a recent proposal to do just that and it failed. Read more



Back to School With Privatization

mpr2003-02cvrsml

This is an actual publication, BTW. I’m gonna read this 2008 issue just to discover what these two things might have in common:

Golf and University Privatization
MPR2008-01: Summer 2008
Published on June 17, 2008

Speaking of privatization, here’s another great education reform idea that is completely about kids and definitely not about racing to the bottom, privatization, or profit:

Michigan Republican Sen. Phil Pavlov, who chairs the state Senate’s education committee, is preparing legislation that would allow public school districts to hire teachers through private, for-profit companies. Privatizing the hiring process would presumably allow school districts to bypass compensation packages sought by teachers unions and let private companies compete for contracts with districts.
Pavlov didn’t respond to a request for comment on the teacher privatization plan. But Pavlov has publicly described his plan, which he said was still in the works, this way: “I look at it as offering options. If there is something out there that can offer school officials the same options at a lower cost, schools need to take a look at that. It needs to [be] part of the conversation on reform.”
Michigan Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, the state Senate minority leader, says she and the Democratic Caucus plan to fight Pavlov’s proposal if it is included in new education legislation. She describes teacher privatization as merely a continuation of Michigan Republicans’ education agenda. “Gov. [Rick] Snyder and Republicans have made no bones about it: they’re trying to dismantle public education in Michigan,” Whitmer says.

Ohio has been reforming schools much longer than Michigan. We’re well into the second decade of this totally new and innovative agenda here, so allow me to predict your future, Michigan. Reform means less funding for every existing public school, lower wages for local school employees and tests. Lots and lots of tests.



Mitch Daniels in his own words

Mitch Daniels and his top state education officials targeted an author and a university professor in an ideological purity-purge:

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged to promote academic freedom when he became president of Purdue University in January, but newly released emails show he attempted to eliminate what he considered liberal “propaganda” at Indiana’s public universities while governor.
The emails are raising eyebrows about Daniels’ appointment as president of a major research university just months after critics questioned his lack of academic credentials and his hiring by a board of trustees he appointed.

In a Feb. 9, 2010, email sent to top state education officials, including then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
“This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away,” Daniels wrote , referring to Zinn. “The obits and commentaries mentioned his book ‘A People’s History of the United States’ is the ‘textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.’ It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Daniels’ concerns about Zinn’s book punctuated a sharp, rapid-fire exchange between the governor and his top aides.
Scott Jenkins, Daniels’ education adviser, was the first to respond to the governor’s question about Zinn’s book. He noted it was being used at an Indiana University course for teachers on the Civil Rights, Feminist and Labor movements.
“This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?” Daniels asked, three minutes after Jenkins’ note.
David Shane, a top fundraiser and state school board member, replied seven minutes later with a strategy directing Bennett and Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers to review university courses across the state.
“Sounds like we need a cleanup of what is credit-worthy in ‘professional development’ and what is not. Who will take charge,” Daniels replied seven minutes later.
Shane replied that a statewide review “would force to daylight a lot of excrement.”
Just seven minutes later, Daniels signed off on it.
“Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc,” Daniels wrote.

Daniels on Tuesday stood by his demand that Zinn be excluded from Indiana classrooms but said his request was limited to K-12, where the state has control of the curriculum.
“We must not falsely teach American history in our schools,” he told The Associated Press in an email. “Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history. His books have no more place in Indiana history classrooms than phrenology or Lysenkoism would in our biology classes or the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in world history courses. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students.”

Daniels is lying. Obviously. Reading his words, Daniels wasn’t worried about K-12 public school students being exposed to ideas that conflict with his far Right ideology. He was worried about teachers and college students who would go on to be K-12 teachers being exposed to ideas that conflict with his far Right ideology. Adults. Not children. That’s why he and his top education officials discuss “professional development” and “ed schools” and that’s why the creeps directed a “review” of courses offered in higher education. If Purdue accepts this completely disingenuous response they all need a remedial reading course.

Daniels is a leader in the “market-based school reform” corps, a lock-step, narrow version of “reform” that deregulates, dismantles and then privatizes K-12 public school systems. Teachers get crazy notions when exposed to anything outside abject market-worship.They might occasionally veer from standardized test prep or (God forbid) form a labor union. Daniels and his education team also sought to silence a critic of their market-based public education approach:

In a separate round of emails, Daniels called for an audit of Little, who teachers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Little was highly critical of Daniels’ education overhaul in internal emails and often critiqued the governor’s performance at public meetings. Daniels directed, in an April 11, 2009 , email that Little’s program be audited and potentially be cut out of state funding.

Then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, is one of many national celebrities in school reform circles. Bennett was too far Right even for Indiana and voters threw him out but he landed on his feet and now directs efforts to deregulate, dismantle and then privatize Florida’s K-12 public schools. Might want to look at the emails in that state.

Is this how school reformers intend to prepare children who attend public schools for the “jobs of the 21st century”? By censoring ideas offered to current and future teachers and silencing critics of market-based school reform?