Republicans Save Obamacare:And Actually Make it Worse!By Richard Moss MDTaking something away once given is nigh impossible in a democracy. Just ask the Republicans in Congress. Obamacare was a giveaway for millions of Americans. It was also fatally flawed. After a trillion dollars spent and massive cuts in Medicare reimbursement, premiums and deductibles have soared. Consumers did not keep their doctor or their plan. The nation’s largest insurers have jumped ship. Bailouts of insurance companies will be required. States and counties across the land have only one insurer. The Affordable Care Act is unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans not being subsidized.The ACA needed one thing: to be given a merciful death. Repealing Obamacare was the single issue that gave Republicans historic wave elections, federal monopoly power, and overwhelming dominance in the states.But instead of repealing it, the Republicans have saved it, and in more grotesque form. The new bill will lead to an even more rapid collapse of healthcare markets in America, only this time with Republican fingerprints all over it.Officially known as the American Health Care Act, it has attracted a variety of monikers including RINO Care, Obamacare lite, and Trumpcare. But Trumpcare is appropriate. The President should have taken the lead, but he didn’t. Instead he handed it over to the Republican Establishment, the McConnells and Ryans in Congress, and in so doing has let down his voters and the country.The flaws of Obamacare are legion but two are crucial. These are “guaranteed issue” and “community rating,” the cost-drivers that have made Obamacare unsustainable. Guaranteed Issue allows consumers to buy insurance regardless of health status. Community Rating, requires insurance companies to charge the same price. Imagine forcing life insurance companies to charge a 75 year old the same as a 25 year old, or coercing auto insurance companies to charge the same after a car accident as before, and you will understand the economic illiteracy of Obamacare. It is not insurance. It is a giveaway.These two features of Obamacare incentivize consumers to defer purchasing insurance until they must have it. They deprive health insurance companies of the necessary balance of healthy buyers to less healthy ones, which pools risk and keeps premiums down. By driving healthy consumers out of the market, and leaving only the unhealthy ones, you drive up rates, increase the ranks of the uninsured, and destroy the market place. These two interlocking mechanisms account for the unfolding “death spiral” of Obamacare. Trumpcare preserves these two features thus ensuring its own ultimate failure and collapse.There are other odious components of Obamacare including the individual and employer mandates, both of which are unconstitutional, notwithstanding Chief Justice John Roberts’s sophistry in 2012. The employer mandate has been a dead weight on the economy and a boon for part time work. Insurance mandates require a minimum “essential” package including items like sex change surgery and prostate care for women that drove up rates as well. The absence of a cap on payments also served to increase premiums. But guaranteed issue and community rating were the primary mechanisms behind the escalating premiums and deductibles.Trumpcare eliminates the employer and individual mandate (and various Obamacare taxes), the “funding” mechanisms of Obamacare. Conservatives would normally rally behind such measures, but only if insurance mandates, guaranteed issue and community rating were similarly terminated. Absent this, Trumpcare will exacerbate the death spiral of the market place as consumers will now have less incentive to buy insurance and employers will dump their plans. The individual mandate is replaced by a 30% increase in insurance premiums for anyone dropping their insurance, which will do nothing to prevent individuals from dispensing with costly insurance. Eliminating the mandates and taxes thusly will blow a hole in the budget and cause further market dislocation.Trumpcare also bankrolls individuals and families earning $150,000 up to $14,000 a year, phasing out above that but still theoretically subsidizing consumers with incomes above $200,000, a massive new entitlement. It preserves the Medicaid expansion and does not freeze enrollment until 2020 thus incentivizing states to expand their Medicaid rolls. It also promises $100 billion in subsidies to the states to assist the poor and to create risk pools. The regulatory, subsidy, mandate cost-drivers of Obamacare are all in place or enhanced. It is a bill only a Democrat could love.Republicans should repeal Obamacare with the same bill they repeatedly sent to Obama to veto the last seven years. Then, it was empty political theater. Now, with a Republican President, they are afraid to. They could extend it a year providing time for recipients to make other arrangements. Instead Trump, the hackneyed Republican leadership in Congress, and vested interests have teamed up not just to preserve Obamacare but make it worse. There has been no draining of the swamp. This is the swamp. The Trump Revolution has been derailed.March 17, 2017Brief Bio: Richard Moss MD is a practicing Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, author, and columnist who resides in Jasper IN. He lost his bid for the Republican nomination for Congress in Indiana’s 8th district in 2016. Find more of his essays and blog posts at exodusmd.com. Also find him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hasan has alleged that there have been constant attempts to sabotage Bangladesh’s upcoming tour of India. The country’s top cricketers with 11-point demand were an extension of the strike.BCB agreed to their demands of better pay package after Bangladesh players called off the strike at the international and first-class level days before their four-week-long tour of India. They are supposed to play three T20 Internationals and two Tests.As per reports, Hasan said he had specific information that this was a conspiracy to sabotage India tour, and everyone should believe in it.When Hasan was asked to explain in detail like why he thought something like that. Why it came into his mind.He mentioned that Tamim had initially told him that he will skip the second Test in Kolkata from November 22-26 for the birth of his second child. After the meeting with players, Tamim said he wants to opt-out of the whole tour.On Wednesday, October 30, Bangladesh is due to arrive in New Delhi but BCB president is skeptical that there could be a few more pull-outs.Later, he won’t be surprised if someone pulls out at the eleventh hour when he would be left with no other options. He even called Shakib to have a chat. He also pulls out where to find a captain. He may need to change the whole combination. What to do with these players?By senior cricketers, the top boss is still livid with the arm-twisting tactic employed and he feels made a mistake by agreeing to their demands.Meanwhile, he said that he has never done that and he should have told the players. Until and unless they call off strike, they will not sit with guys across the negotiation table. Speaking to board members, Hasan also added he felt that this should have been their approach but the media also created pressure on them.Also Read: BCB Chief Nazmul Hasan Doesn’t Rule Out More Pulls out From India TourAlso Watch: One Person Killed in a Road Accident on the NH-38 in Digboi.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was interested in signing the likes of Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani in the summer – but claims he did not go through with deals to keep the Blues in line with the new Financial Fair Play rules.Mourinho still had a busy first transfer window after returning to Stamford Bridge, with Andre Schurrle, Marko van Ginkel and Willian all commanding big fees.But the Portuguese stopped short of pushing for the likes of Falcao and Cavani, who ended up at Ligue 1 sides Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, because the outlays would have jeopardisedChelsea’s standing when it comes toUEFA’s new rules on spending.Mourinho’s Chelsea to the top of theBarclays Premier League and is still in the FA Cup and Champions Leagueand, when asked if Financial Fair Play was the reason moves for Cavani and Falcao never got off the ground, he replied: “Correct. Because of transfer fees and salaries.”Players are not just about transfer fees, but big wages. Of course there’s a certain profile of player we don’t go near.”Mourinho claimed to relish the challenge of the financial restraints, adding: “It’s even better and even more enjoyable work, I think.”Chelsea have been synonymous with spending big on players since Roman Abramovich took over at the club over a decade ago. But now Mourinho is overseeing a change in philosophy, with over £20million profit taken throughout January as the signings of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah were offset with the sales of Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata.Former Inter Milan and Real Madrid coach Mourinho praised the work done by his predecessors as he believes Chelsea will be in a strong position when financial restraints come into place that could see some of Europe’s biggest sides fall foul and miss out on entering the Champions League.”Chelsea made great investment in the past, and in some moments were also a bit criticised because we did so much,” he added.”But things change. Chelsea adapted well to the situation. When you see De Bruyne, who played three or four matches for Chelsea, gave us a big profit, there are other players who – maybe – don’t play a single match for Chelsea and we will sell them at a profit.”We had to organise ourselves in a different way. Before me, Chelsea did fantastic work in this level: [Romelu] Lukaku, De Bruyne, [Thibaut] Courtois, young [Thorgan] Hazard, Piazon. Not all of them will have a career at Chelsea, but all of them are important in this new financial organisation. “So Chelsea worked very, very well and probably started doing that before other clubs. Because of that, even if Financial Fair Play comes into practice, I think Chelsea are advanced projecting that new situation and did very, very well. It was before me.”
The year 2015 is expected to be a stimulating and defining year for our Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector; it is expected to be a year of progress and new developments. We will hear about things like Digital Migration, a national web portal for Government to digitally deliver services and information to citizens, residents, businesses, et al, the discontinuation of the use of Internet email systems such as Yahoo! And GMAIL for OFFICIAL Government communications, a strong CIO regime, and a robust e-government program that has already begun. But what is more important is the improvements we expect to see the players of our ICT sector bring in the 2015. In the following paragraphs I provide a forecast of the initiatives that we will see our players of our ICT sector embark on in 2015. We will see the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the head of the ICT sector and a ministry with immense authority but often greatly underrated, emerge with more policies and standards that will improve and turn the sector into one that epitomizes modernity.We will see the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) play an even aggressive role in implementing its national mandate of regulating the sector. Already, we are hearing about Digital Migration and measures being taken to eradicate “grey routing.”LIBTELCO has been criticized for its inability to fully roll out the African Coast to Europe (ACE) fiber-optic cable since its advent several years ago. But these criticisms do not subsume the challenges that the entity continues to face. Hopefully though, with the recent changes in management and governance, we may see a shift in paradigm and a new energy as LIBTELCO takes on its national mandate. We may see a National Operator (LIBTELCO) that adopts an agile/responsive approach to service and product delivery as well as competition.We will see our operators (Lonestar, Cellcom, Novafone, West African Telecom, et al) provide more and better services and products to satisfy customers’ demand and respond to the changes of time. Prices will decrease, there will be more innovative products and quality of service will be optimal.We will see ICT firms especially those in Software or Web development take a paradigm shift in their delivery of solutions to businesses, government and individuals. The use of Open Source Software will encourage Software firms to adapt new business models and strategies (new to Liberia); models and business strategies that are currently being used by companies (RedHat, Zimbra, et al) engaged in the commercial open source software business. This is a result of the Ebola Crisis which brought in a blitzkrieg of open source software enabling the collection, dissemination, communication of information and collaboration between crisis responders.ICT professionals and business strategists will emerge with a new type of strategy. This strategy will involve a trichotomy or what I call the “Nexus of Forces” — Mobile Technology, Social Media and Open Source) and they will create new opportunities for innovative business models. This new type of strategy will force our businesses, government and individuals to look to technology to create new products and services, not just enable them. We are already familiar with the impact of the “Nexus of forces”; we saw this during the response against Ebola.We will see ICT professionals divorcing themselves from old-school ICT approaches (techie), to a more business-focused, customer-centric and service-centric role; the amalgam of these three components would be the result of a parallel between business strategy and technology. This “parallel” involves aligning strategy with technology to achieve goals and competitive advantage.As I mentioned above Ebola has kindled a new focus on software development in Liberia. This will drive ICT Schools and Training firms to reconfigure or redesign their curricula to meet the demands of the changes that we now have to deal with. We will see more technology integration in our schools and there will be much talk and work on integrating robust Science, Technology, Environmental Ed/Engineering, and Math programs in schools.We may see a National ICT Certification program that will help produce more skilled ICT professionals and we will ultimately see a robust Open Source Software initiative that will enhance our software ecosystem.In the area of Agriculture we will hear much about Agro-technology. Our health sector which I believe, has ignited the need to make radical changes in many areas of our country (Education, Health, Agriculture, etc), will see major improvements and this will be driven by modern technologies.We will continue to work aggressively with our leaders to persuade them about the impact of ICT and what the opportunities could be to our country; that is if EBOLA has not brought the much needed “ICT Epiphany”. We will continue to build a strong culture around our ICT initiatives, governance, human resource development and a vibrant local entrepreneurship. In simple terms, this is about ensuring that we are doing the right things, that we are building the right skills and that we are taking the steps necessary to ensure sustainability. There is no doubt new skill sets will be required and the acquisition and retention of people with these skills is already a competitive differentiator for many organizations, especially government.We (ICT professionals) will work with businesses, other organizations and government to reinvent things. We will see more business processes become automated, standardized and simplified. People will realize that working smarter is better than working harder.We will see an e-government initiative that will kindle a new paradigm in the way citizens and businesses interact with government. Those responsible for Government’s ICT strategy and programs will continue to refine their ICT strategies based upon a solid understanding of what we refer to in Enterprise Architecture as the “business architecture.”We will see a standardized and well controlled government web presence that will lead to the development of a national web portal; a medium that will provide a one-stop shop for Government’s delivery of services and information to its citizens, residents, businesses and other stakeholders. Through this one-stop shop medium, Government will realize significant cost savings, and citizens will not only experience the convenience of Government’s services being delivered “digitally”, but they will also realize a reduction in the cost of services that were previously done via the traditional brick-n-mortal environment (government office).The issue of the .Gov.lr secondary domain name will be resolved and control of this domain name shall be placed in the hands Chief Information Office (CIO) through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.We will see progress in Open Source Software and Open Standards within the context of a national policy and action plan. Being able to have standards that allow innovation is critical to economic development, thus the push for open standards and open source software.Our focus will shift toward a new paradigm which is about using technology to create value and new revenue streams, new business models, and products and services and digital experiences around existing products.These are just a few of the developments that we foresee in 2015. But we expect to see more development in our ICT sector. This year, is indeed a year of progress.Until next week, CARPE DIEM!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The frame of the A hi fambeni is made from light and strong advanced materials, and was built by students from the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. (Image: Tshwane University of Technology) South Africa’s rural communities may soon have access to a new, greener form of transport, following the recent launch of the country’s first hydrogen-powered bicycle.Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor unveiled the vehicle at a technology conference earlier in August 2010 at the Kwa-Maritane Bush Lodge in the North West province.The name of the bicycle is A hi fambeni, which is Xitsonga for “let’s go”.“A hi fambeni offers a practical way to promote public awareness of hydrogen as a clean energy alternative,” Pandor said at the launch.Team effortThe bicycle was developed by students of the Tshwane University of Technology in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology and Hydrogen SA, which was set up by the South African government in 2008 to investigate the use of hydrogen as a sustainable and clean source of energy.The team mentor was internationally renowned motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche, who was sponsored by the department to work at the university for a month during the design process.The South African-born Terblanche has been based in Italy for the past 20 years as a designer and consultant for prominent bike manufacturers Ducati and Piaggio, among others, and has scooped three prizes over the years at the Milan Motorcycle Show.Terblanche became involved in A hi fambeni through the Resource Driven Technology Concept Centre (RETECZA), which is a non-profit initiative between the department, the Tshwane university, the Georgia Institute for Technology in the US, a consortium of the world’s leading motor manufacturers and a group of South African companies.RETECZA – set up to develop technology for cleaner, more sustainable energy and poverty alleviation – hosted the conference at which the hydrogen bicycle was launched.Top local and international researchers delivered papers at the conference, which focused on how technology can improve the standard of living in rural communities. There were contributions from a variety of overseas experts, including individuals from Sweden, Germany and Italy.‘E-bikes huge part of the future’A hi fambeni is not a conventional bicycle that needs vast amounts of pedalling: it’s powered by electricity that comes from hydrogen fuel cells, which are generally quiet and reliable units as they have no moving parts. Although there are other types of electric bicycles in South Africa, these are powered by lead batteries, not fuel cells.Electric bikes, or e-bikes for short, are a huge part of the future of the green transport sector, Pandor said at the launch, adding that she was pleased the innovation was based on the bicycle, which is an affordable mode of transport.“In many ways, the future of e-bikes can be seen in what has happened over the last decade in China, where the growth in the number of electric bikes has been spectacular. In 1998 there were a mere 400 000 there, but in 2008 there were 21-million,” the minister said.In 2007 the science and technology department launched Shova Kalula, which means “push easily” in isiZulu. This is a partnership with the private sector and civil society that plans to give 1-million bicycles to school children by 2015 and to build dedicated bicycle paths across the country.Pandor said she hopes there will be some synergy between Shova Kalula and the A hi fambeni prototype.She added that the plan is to start with an environment-friendly bike, a trike and then a car.
“During the 2010 Fifa World Cup, we showed that together, we can achieve anything. We showed that ubuntu is more than a word …” Brand South Africa’s latest video calls on South Africans to “keep wearing the flag with all your heart … keep making ours the greatest country in the world. Put your soul into it!”Click arrow to play video.Published on SouthAfrica.info on 9 September 2010.Source: Brand South Africa
One of the oldest, simplest, and least expensive ways to reduce the heat absorbed by a sun-exposed roof or other exterior surface is, as Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently put it, to “make it white.”As noted in a story about white roofs in Thursday’s New York Times, Chu made that observation during a July 21 appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.True, most of Chu’s chat with the show’s host, Jon Stewart, focused on the merits of the cap-and-trade provisions of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. But near the end of the conversation, Chu briefly discussed the energy-saving potential of white roofs (and white roads). And the topic seemed to strike a chord with folks who heard Chu’s remarks: almost all of the viewers who posted comments on The Daily Show Web page featuring the Chu segment focused on the benefits of white roofs and roads.Chu’s comments were timely. A draft presentation on the subject was released on Wednesday by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in a document titled “Cool Roof Q&A.”A primer on roof colorThe Q&A offers both consumer-oriented information and technical descriptions of the ways roofing materials and their color affect their “radiative” properties – their ability to reflect solar radiation (on a scale of 0 to 1) and emit thermal radiation (on a scale of 0 to 1) – when exposed to sunlight. The coolness rating of a material, known as its solar reflective index, is often compared to that of a reference black roof, which is assigned an SRI of 0, and that of a reference white roof, whose SRI is 100. That doesn’t rule out the possibility, however, that some materials may earn index values above or below the references.The Q&A cites as an example a roof with a clean, smooth bright white surface that reflects about 85% of incident sunlight (giving it a reflective, or “R,” value of 0.85) and emits thermal radiation with 90% efficiency (giving it an emittance, or “E,” value of 0.90). This surface, the document explains, has an SRI of 107 and will be only 9°F warmer than the outside air on a typical summer afternoon. Meanwhile, the surface of a standard gray roof that has the same emittance value but reflects only about 20% of incident sunlight (R = 0.20, E = 0.90) would have an SRI of just 19 and a surface temperature elevation (surface temperature minus outside air temperature) of 69°F.Rosenfeld’s big pictureThe document does note that exposure to weather over a three-year period typically does not change the thermal emittance but does reduce the reflectance of a low-sloped bright white roof to about 65%, pushing its SRI down to 79. After similar exposure, the reflectance and thermal emittance of a standard gray roof remain unchanged – but so does the roof’s relatively poor SRI.California Energy Commission member Arthur Rosenfeld, who, the Times notes, is one of Secretary Chu’s heroes and a longtime advocate of cool roofs, recently wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post that cited one of his favorite illustrations of cool-roof efficiency.“From a global perspective,” Rosenfeld wrote, “replacing dark roofs with cool ones would be equivalent to taking half the world’s cars – 300 million vehicles – off the road for 20 years, or reducing 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions for the same period.”