Wednesday, December 24, 2014

US Finds Organ Sale A Victimless Crime And Not A Moral Turpitude Offense

From Bloomberg, "Organ Broker Skirts Expulsion as U.S. Concludes His Crime Was 'Victimless' " by David Glovin:
An Israeli citizen who in 2011 became the only person in the U.S. convicted of organ trafficking will remain in the country after a federal immigration agency concluded his crime was "victimless" and not an offense of "moral turpitude," his lawyer said.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum completed a 2 1/2-year sentence last week for brokering the sale of kidneys. By permitting his release from a New Jersey prison rather than holding him for deportation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency concluded that Rosenbaum didn’t engage in a violent or immoral crime that would warrant his expulsion from the U.S., his lawyer said.

"It was a victimless crime because the recipient received a kidney and the donor was remunerated for his contribution," Edward Shulman, an immigration lawyer in Paterson, New Jersey, said in a phone interview. "Even though he was convicted, it was not immoral what he was doing."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Births To Single Moms Increasing In US For All Groups: 72 Percent Of Blacks Born To Single Mom: 36 Percent Of Whites Born To Single Mom

From The Washington Post, "The unbelievable rise of single motherhood in America over the last 50 years" by Emily Badger:
More women are having their children later in life. Or they're doing so in less traditional ways: before marriage, without marriage, or with unmarried partners. Single motherhood has grown so common in America that demographers now believe half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18.
It [following chart] shows that more than 70 percent of all black children today are born to an unmarried mom, a three-fold increase in that rate since the 1960s:

Increase In Unmarried Births Chart: 1950 to 2010
Source: The Washington Post

Thursday, December 18, 2014

US Census Hispanic Population Projection For 2050 Expected To Be 30 Million Lower Than Earlier Forecast

From PewResearchCenter, "With fewer new arrivals, Census lowers Hispanic population projections" by Jens ManuelKrogstad:
The Hispanic population is expected to reach about 106 million in 2050, about double what it is today, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population projections. But the new Hispanic population projection for 2050 is lower — by nearly 30 million — than earlier population projections published by the bureau.

Hispanic population projections
Source: PewResearchCenter

Friday, December 12, 2014

Explicit Assumptions In Building Dynamic Scoring CBO Models Will Lay Bare The Ineffectiveness Of Government Programs: My Comment To BloombergView Article

My posted comment to BloombergView, "The Best Case Against Dynamic Scoring? These Guys" by Christopher Flavelle:
Let's just look at one quotation from a former CBO director June O'Neill, from the article, to see why many do not want dynamic scoring:

" 'You could attach it to anything with effects beyond cost,' she said. 'You might say education will increase growth, which should be taken into account.' That's unlikely to appeal to current Republicans, who scoff at the idea that government spending has a multiplier effect."

Yes, more useful (math, science, computer and technical) education would increase wages and economic growth, but for education to work and affect the economy, the US needs to increase its HS and college graduation rates and student reading and math test scores. Despite a tremendous increase in federal and state spending on education over the last 40 years, test scores, HS graduation rates (excluding GEDs) and college graduation rates have not increased.

So the simple answer to June O'Neill is that government spending on education, in the real world, does not increase economic growth.

The fear many have that favor government programs is that in dynamic scoring models because the models will have to include effects beyond immediate costs, the explicit assumptions that go into building them will lay bare the ineffectiveness of most government programs. Dynamic scoring and its real world test assumptions will show that the emperor has no clothes other than a law's title and a politician's speech.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

85 Percent Of The 6300 Black Homicides In US Were By Black Civilians Last Year

From The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, "The Police Aren’t the Problem" by Jason L Riley:
There were about 6,300 black homicides in the U.S. last year, according to the FBI, and 85% involved black civilian perpetrators. Police officers, by contrast, were responsible for 3% of deaths, which in most cases resulted from the victim assaulting the officer (Brown) or resisting arrest (Garner). Nor do the data suggest that trigger-happy officers are gunning down black men for minor offenses. "There were 228,000 misdemeanor arrests in New York City in 2013," reports Bob McManus of the New York Post, "and every one of them had at least the potential to turn into an Eric Garner-like case. None did. So much for the out-of-control cop trope."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Affordable Care Act Fails Medicaid Enrollees, The Poor And Previously Uninsured: Half of The Doctors Listed In Medicaid Are Unavailable: The Emperor Has No Clothes

From The New York Times, "Half of Doctors Listed as Serving Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, Investigation Finds" by Robert Pear:
Large numbers of doctors who are listed as serving Medicaid patients are not available to treat them, federal investigators said in a new report.

"Half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees," the investigators said in the report, which will be issued on Tuesday.

Many of the doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients or could not be found at their last known addresses, according to the report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. The study raises questions about access to care for people gaining Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Lower Food Prices From Lower Oil Prices

From Bloomberg, "Cheap Oil Also Means Cheaper Commodities Amid Surpluses" by Isaac Arnsdorf:
Because energy accounts for as much as half the cost to produce food and metals, all sorts of commodities will keep dropping, according to Societe Generale SA and Citigroup Inc. With inventories ample and slowing economies eroding demand, cheaper oil lowers the price floor for mining companies and farmers to remain profitable. Corn may drop another 3 percent, cotton 6.5 percent and gold as much as 5 percent, SocGen estimates.

Costs are falling as surpluses emerge in copper and sugar and as the economy slows in China, the top consumer of energy, metals, pork and soybeans. The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 items is heading for a fourth straight annual drop, the longest slump since its inception in 1991. Brent crude, gasoline and heating oil are the biggest losers as an increase in U.S. drilling led to a price war with producers in OPEC. [Emphasis added.]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Affordable Care Act High Deductible Health Insurance Policies Causing Insured To Delay Getting Medical Care: ACA Is Lowering Total Healthcare Costs By Lowering Healthcare Use Instead of Market Based Efficiencies From Competition Lowering Each Medical Procedure Cost

From The Wall Street Journal, "More Cost of Health Care Shifts to Consumers: High-Deductible Insurance Plans Prompt Some to Delay Treatment" by Stephanie Armour:
For the [Affordable Care Act] exchanges’ 2015 policies, which went on sale last month, “bronze- level” plans have an average deductible of $5,181 for individuals, up from $5,081 in 2014, according to a November report from HealthPocket, which publishes health insurance market analyses. Bronze plans generally cover 60% of consumers’ medical expenses.

While surveys show steeper out-of-pocket costs lead some people to defer even routine medical care, economists say the trend brings an important upside: It is helping fuel a period of historically low growth in health-care spending, which eases the federal deficit.
"There has been a steady increase in deductibles and the main effect is to reduce use," said Drew Altman, president of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. "The gradual shift to consumers having more skin in the game is encouraged as part of national policy, and it’s having an impact."
One in three Americans said they or a family member delayed medical care because of costs in 2014, according to a report last month by survey company Gallup. That is the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.
Not too long ago, a 50 inch plasma HDTV cost $20,000 and a 20 inch LCD HDTV cost $5500. Today, a 32 inch Samsung LED HDTV cost less than $200 and a 60 inch Vizio cost less than $800 (both are around a 96 percent reduction in price). Imagine that the US government decided that the US consumer was spending too much money on HDTVs and decided to decrease HDTV total spending by lowering the number of TVs purchased. If the US government had limited HDTV sales, HDTVs would be much more expensive today and many people would either choose to spend their money on other things or decide they could not be able to afford HDTVs.

Lowering total cost by lowering usage through government intervention is not the same as lowering the unit cost through competition. With a lower unit price through competition more people can buy the product or service. Lowering total cost without a lower unit price reduces the number of users and still leaves many who cannot afford to buy the service or product.

The Affordable Care Act does not foster medical care competition with the resulting lower unit cost of medical procedures. Instead the ACA policies lower Medicare reimbursement rates and indirectly increase consumers out of pocket expenses through higher deductibles. Both policies have the same effect of lowering medical usage. The first by limiting the supply of doctor appointments available and the second by making routine medical care unaffordable to many.

Increasing out of pocket costs to consumers is a good start to increasing competition in the medical profession, but there are so many other barriers to market based competition in the medical field that increasing the out of pocket costs is likely not enough by itself to be effective in lowering the unit cost of medical procedures.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Replace The Congressional Budget Office With A Legislation Effectiveness Office

My published comment to The Wall Street Journal Opinion, "How to Score in Congress: The GOP needs reformers to run CBO and the Joint Tax Committee:"
In the private sector, costs and revenue are associated with the same service or product. In the public sector, costs are incurred for a benefit, but the revenue is from unrelated taxes and fees.

Evaluate government programs by their effectiveness in achieving their purpose and not by the amount of taxes and fees that Congress includes in the same bill. Congress can enact the taxes and fees associated with many bills without the passage of the original program bill. The new funds could be used to lower our debt or balance our budget.

Instead of a Congressional Budget Office, the US needs an Effectiveness Office to analyze the likelihood that a proposed law or program will achieve its purposes; to study the effectiveness of previously enacted legislation in achieving stated goals.

Having ineffective programs and laws removed would do more good, then balancing the books of new programs and laws with more fees and taxes. Reorganize the CBO as a Program Effectiveness Office.

Monday, December 1, 2014

US Losing Its Competitive Edge In Attracting Top University Educated Immigrants: Increasing Share Going To Asia, Australia, Latin America, Oceania And Africa

From ScienceBlog, "Study: US attracting fewer educated, highly skilled migrants:"
The study ["Migration of Professionals to the US: Evidence from LinkedIn data" by Bogdan State, Mario Rodriguez, Dirk Helbing and and Emilio Zagheni] [weblink added], which was presented at the recent SocInfo conference in Barcelona, Spain, found that:
  • While 27 percent of migrating professionals among the sample group chose the U.S. as a destination in 2000, in 2012 just 13 percent did.
  • The decline was seen across professionals with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • The biggest drop was among those in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, from 37 to 15 percent.
  • Asian countries saw the highest increase in professional migrants worldwide, attracting a cumulative 26 percent in 2012, compared with just 10 percent in 2000.
  • Australia, Oceania, Africa and Latin America also saw an uptick in their share of the world’s professional migration flows.
  • The U.S. attracted 24 percent of graduates from the top 500 universities worldwide in 2000, but just 12 percent in 2012.
"These other countries are attracting not only a higher share of migrants, but also migrants from the top universities in the world," Zagheni said. "That was surprising." The study...counters conventional wisdom that the U.S. is the incontestable top choice for professionals migrating from other countries.