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Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?
Monday, January 27th, 2020 | Author:

The continuing saga of economic decline in western democracies…  Is Greece the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for how these events unfold?

Image result for acropolis

Update

Some relatively positive news on the economic situation in Greece.  The Greece Public Debt Management Agency says it plans to issue a 15-year bond, tapping international markets for financing after the country’s sovereign credit rating was upgraded to BB with a positive outlook, citing improved debt sustainability and a “stable political backdrop.”

 

July 20, 2019

A commentary about the recent direction of Greece from Taki’s Magazine:

The trouble with Greece is over-regulation and corruption. Ironically, Greek oligarchs have a very limited grip on the economy. Oligarchs are not the major obstacle to growth; bureaucracy and over-regulation are. The last four years of socialism have done only harm. That bum Tsipras sold the country down in exchange for outriders during his visits to foreign capitals. He’s now set for life, and the Greeks, being Greek, will vote him back with his new false promises in the future.

 

December 24, 2018

It doesn’t sound like any improvements:

The Greek government has agreed to even more austerity in the form of more taxes and more pension cuts… Since onset of the crisis, owing to strict Brüning-like austerity demands of Germany and the EU, the economy has contracted by 25%. Unemployment is at 20% and youth unemployment above 40%. 

 

Comments from a Greek libertarian about the reality of the current situation:

Greek public debt went from 130 percent when the crisis began to the present 180 percent of the GDP debt. Perhaps this is an improvement if one works in the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984, but I don’t. Do these crap bankers and E.U. shills take us all for idiots? Eight years of economic strangulation in order to pay the German banks, half of the middle class of doctors, engineers, and scientists gone abroad, and the extreme left-wing clowns and charlatans who have run the place since 2015 are saying that the chaos is over and everything’s hunky-dory.

 

August 31, 2018

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provides an update on the economy in Greece:

It took three bailouts, around €290 billion in loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund… On Monday Greece’s third bailout will conclude, and the country will no longer have to rely on its official creditors to finance itself…. The Greek economy has grown slowly in recent years but is still 25% smaller than when the crisis began.

 

March 6, 2018

According to MarketWatch, Greece’s economy expanded for a fourth straight quarter in the last three months of 2017.  Gross domestic product increased by 0.1% in the October-to-December period, compared with an upwardly revised 0.4% growth in the third quarter.

Since entering recession in 2008, Greek GDP has shrunk by more than a quarter amid austerity measures imposed by international creditors after 2010, while unemployment has reached nearly 28% of the workforce.

The country is still in its third bailout program in a row, which ends this August, and the country has sought to convince its creditors that it is finally able to stand on its own feet.

 

December 6, 2017

According to Bloomberg magazine, there is some positive news about the economic decline in Greece:

Greece’s economy expanded for a third straight quarter for the first time in more than a decade, providing a foundation for the country’s attempts to exit its bailout program next year.

[…]

The third-quarter expansion was led by 5 percent boost in exports, including a 9.8 percent increase in service exports, which includes the country’s crucial tourist sector. Consumption fell 0.1 percent, while investment decreased 6.1 percent in the quarter.

 

October 15, 2017

It appears that Greece is entering the period of financial fudging:

Indeed, figures for the second quarter have been promising, mainly thanks to tourism. The finance ministry released figures showing a primary surplus slightly above the one projected. 

In addition, despite Tsipras’ boasting of lowering the unemployment figures, the truth is that more and more people work part-time or at temporary jobs, and get paid third-world wages… In the last week of September, Greece’s largest ice cream factory, Froneri Hellas, shut down, adding 102 people to the unemployment line. Froneri is the latest addition in the long list of once flourishing companies, that has succumbed to the crisis.

Source: Despite Gov’t Boasting over Growth, Greeks Get Poorer

 

July 11, 2017

From today’s US Today, an update on the situation in Greece:

Two years after an international bailout that was supposed to lead to an economic revival, conditions here have only worsened and life for Greeks has become one of constant misery.   

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

On July 5, 2015, voters soundly rejected the terms of a proposed bailout with international lenders because the plan demanded too much austerity. Yet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party ignored the referendum results and signed a third bailout deal that would provide nearly $100 billion in loans the country desperately needed to avoid collapse.

Interestingly, I just had a good friend of mine return from Greece and share his thoughts on the situation in Athens… While tourism is still relatively strong, it’s not a very pretty economic environment for growth.

 

June 6, 2017

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a recent Pew Research poll showed that 98% of the residents of Greece view their current economic situation as “bad.”  As a contrast, 40% of Americans consider the current economics as bad.

 

May 3, 2017

It’s a never-ending story.  It appears to be the proverbial “kicking the can down the road”.  They’re throwing more money at Greece once again for the promise of more austerity measures:

The preliminary deal with international creditors would allow Athens to receive emergency funds in exchange for promises of higher taxes and lower social spending.

As far as I know, the real solutions are: a) a major write-down of the debt, b) significant steps for economic growth.  I haven’t seen either of these in the plans for the Greek empire.

 

February 7, 2017

It’s now 2017 and there is still no clear path to stability for Greece… and no one appears to have an answer. The economists are now saying that Greece cannot ‘grow’ out of their economic malaise:

The new report was prepared by IMF staff ahead of a February 6 board meeting to discuss the fund’s participation in an EU-led €86bn bailout of Greece and signals the continuing hard line the IMF is taking on debt relief for Athens. It offers a bleaker view of Greece’s economic dilemmas than an analysis prepared last year, warning that the debt load is “highly unsustainable” and would not improve even if it implemented further reforms recommended by the fund. . . .

“Even with these ambitious polices in place, Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” IMF staff warned in the report, seen by the Financial Times and drafted as part of the fund’s annual review of member economies. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”

This is a good assessment of the real challenge:

The deeper problem is that Greece does not produce like a developed country, but its citizens expect the level of services and pensions normally associated with a developed country.  That’s why there is so much hostility to Greece in the middle-income countries of Eastern Europe, where benefit levels are lower.

 

June 25, 2016

From the Wall Street Journal, there is no end in sight for the economic decline in Greece…

Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.

 

May 8, 2016

The drama continues as the government of Greece passes additional austerity measures:

Greece’s parliament has passed a package of tax and pension reforms, ahead of a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers… Before the vote, protesters in Athens threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.  Trade unions say the country cannot bear another round of austerity… Three days of a general strike paralysed public transport and slowed the public sector and the media.  Speaking before the vote, the leader of the Greek Communist Party, Dimitris Koutsoubas, said the Greek people would “not tolerate nor accept” the measures and would “show their true power” in the event of a yes vote.

 

April 16, 2016

This article in the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the recent economic progress (or lack thereof) in Greece:

The Greek government fears it could be subjected to terror attacks if a taxpayer-funded mosque is not constructed in Athens.  Officials claim it would allow Muslims to practise their religion under the auspices of a centrally-appointed imam that would ensure it does not stray into extremism.

Hmmm… the country is broke, yet it’s using ‘taxpayer’ (in Greece, the word taxpayer should always appear in scary quotes) money to payoff potential terrorists.

 

January 25, 2016

From the analysts at investors.com, the latest status and outlook:

In protracted and bitter negotiations last summer, the country promised to raise the retirement age, cut pensions, liberalize the energy market, open up closed professions, raise taxes and sell government assets.

There have been encouraging signs. In December, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed overhauls needed to get the next $1.1 billion segment of the bailout negotiated over the summer with the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika.

Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating to B- from CCC+ with stable outlook, citing the country’s compliance with its economic program.

But the country is a long way from recovery. Third-quarter unemployment was 24% and the economy contracted 0.1% from a year earlier.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that they expect Greece to slip into deep recession later this year.

 

September 21, 2015

The malaise continues… a good analysis from Strategy Page:

We know how Greece got here. Greek productivity could not pay for the lifestyle its citizens desired. The productivity of other Euro-zone nations financed Greek good times and kept Greek politicians in power.

Greece lied to obtain the largesse. When the Euro-zone officially formed in 2001, Greece claimed it had a GDP deficit of 1.5 percent. In 2012, former Greek budget minister Peter Doukas said the real 2001 figure was 8.3 percent. Over the years, Greek governments violated fiscal agreements, borrowed money they could not repay and managed to hide the lies. European Union monitoring systems failed to detect the buildup in Greek debt.

The Greek people, who supported these lying governments, enjoyed “other people’s money.” Now German, French and even Italian workers say no more. Italians complain that Greek government worker pensions are far more lavish than theirs. No la dolce vita on our euros.

As for selective law enforcement: Systemic crookedness stymies economic growth. Greeks know it. A June 2010 poll found that 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” That same year, a Greek finance ministry investigation uncovered extensive tax evasion, corruption and bribery in its tax collection offices. Greek tax evaders cost the country an estimated $27 billion to $30 billion a year.

Here’s the big story. In Greece, we witness another hard example of an old lesson. Economic reality shakes and eventually shatters political fantasy. Fantasy may fade, but denial tends to die hard. All too often, it dies violently.

 

June 28, 2015

The saga continues… The Greeks elected a Communist leader that promised economic miracles for the citizenry (sound familiar?); and everyone has discovered the harsh reality of running out of other people’s money.  It’s now widely reported that the Greek government is shuttering the banks for a week:

Greek leaders planned to shutter their banks on Monday amid last-ditch discussions about their nation’s economic future, as panicked citizens tried to pull their money from their accounts while they still were able.

I still don’t know enough about macroeconomics to predict the eventual end game…  I suppose the other EU countries will be coming to Athens to repossess the Parthenon.

greek-economy

 

January 6, 2015

Well, three years later and we have not yet closed the loop on the outcome…  Today’s BusinessWeek discusses Greece considering its options:

The current Greek situation is particularly troubling since by as early as mid-year it could constitute Europe’s Lehman Brothers moment. Whatever the outcome of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, it is difficult to see how Greece can avoid a major policy collision with its European partners. Greece is showing every sign of austerity and economic reform fatigue as its economy remains mired in the deepest of depressions.

 

February 3, 2014

Yes, the story continues more than two years later, but the plot and results remain the same… As noted at ZeroHedge, Europe pretends to bail out Greece… and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms when it merely continues to spend as before until the money runs out…

At this point, I would be willing to say that Victor Davis Hanson has been the best prognosticator (see earlier posts below)

 

May 9, 2013

The Greek government began its first mass-firing of public-sector workers in more than 100 years this week, part of an effort to lay off 180,000 by 2015 under Europe-imposed austerity.

via Greece starts firing civil servants for first time in a century.

 

August 20, 2012

More bad news about the Greece economy…  They have debt coming due and the country needs to issue more bonds.  The Greek GDP shrank by more than 6% over the last 12 months.

I still have that lingering question:  How does Greece break out of this continuous decline?

 

July 24, 2012

The Prime Minister of Greece declares that his country is in a depression (any surprises here?):

Greek GDP is expected by the end of this year to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008...

 

May 11, 2012

You may have missed the Greek elections, but the results are foretelling — the citizens cast quite a few ballots for the Communist and the Nazi parties…  the real takeaway that can be generalized for many western countries is that nobody wants to hear about austerity measures.  Given a choice between a leader who says “you’ll have to tighten your belt and go to work” versus a prospective leader who proclaims “the government should continue to support your lifestyle”, well, the answer is pretty obvious.

The saga about bankrupt western countries continues to unfold…

 

May 2, 2012

It’s not getting any better in Athens…

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April 5, 2012

It appears that the financial markets are not convinced that Greece has overcome its problems.  The Greek 10 year bonds are now hovering around a 20% yield rate (in contrast, US 10 year bonds are approximately 2%).

 

February 13, 2012

A prognostication from Victor Davis Hanson:

There are only three scenarios likely for Greece: (1) In exchange for debt relief, a liberated Greece changes its ways, opens up its economy, redefines labor and capital markets and becomes a sort of Spain (unlikely). (2) It defaults and its drachma-based country reverts to what one remembered in the old days and what one would expect from a top-heavy, unproductive socialist state (somewhat likely). Or (3) it gets some half-relief, but soon reneges on its promised reforms and austerity, and thus like Greek cities in the 2nd Century AD, life goes on as weeds grow among the impressive, but crumbling infrastructure of the past (very likely).

 

February 5, 2012

The saga continues… Is the situation in Greece a microcosm of the western democracies and economic decline?  A recent issue of the Washington Times discusses how the Greek bailout cycle continues unabated:

The latest examination by international debt inspectors found Greece in such dire straits that it requires another $20 billion cash infusion. This would be on top of the $171 billion promised in October, which was on top of the $145 billion Greece received in 2010…

Greece is not going to escape this repeating cycle of near-collapse and bailout without doing something that sparks sustained economic growth and private-sector job creation. It’s well past time to try something new. The last two years of bailouts and broken promises to cut back on spending have resulted in a shrinking economy and what seem to be daily news of rioting on the streets of Athens. That’s not exactly the best advertisement for Greece’s most significant industry: tourism.

 

January 31, 2012

The German news organization, Spiegel, is sharing its thoughts on the situation in Greece…  They exclaim that European politicians are not facing reality:

Once again, Europe is arguing over a bailout for Greece, and it looks as though the result will be no different that it has been in the past… Europe’s politicians continue to battle reality. Everyone knows that Greece cannot repay its massive pile of debts, now at more than €350 billion ($459 billion). But instead of effectively reducing the financial burden, European politicians intend to approve new loans for the government in Athens and go on fighting debt with new debt.

 

January 29, 2012

The latest discussion is about Greece changing from using the Euro as its currency:

Germany and the rest of the eurozone can’t actually kick a country out of the euro for fear of investor panic and speculation against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. But if Greece were to leave on its own…

 

January 25, 2012

The situation in Greece has many economists around the world concerned:

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now. This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control. Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.

 

January 15, 2012

I’ve been watching the situation in Greece with great interest.  It possesses all of the leading indicators of great decline associated with a western culture that has embraced Socialism.  These indicators include a very low reproduction rate among the indigenous population; huge amounts of entitlements showered among the citizens; and a government expenditure rate well out of line with the country’s gross domestic product.

When a country gets to this point what happens?  Do they declare bankruptcy and the creditor nations repossess the assets? Do they hyper-inflate their way out of debt by using their own currency?

Over at the Calculated Risk blog, they talk about the fact that everyone knows that the Greeks are not willing to adopt austerity measures.

At this point, it all sounds like a huge game of “kick the can” as a means to delay the inevitable…  of course, I still don’t have a clear picture of the eventual outcome.

 

Category: Business, Politics  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments
Does AI Mean ‘Augmented Intelligence’?
Saturday, January 04th, 2020 | Author:

Update

A recent article in Kaiser Health News about the overblown claims of AI in healthcare:

Early experiments in AI provide a reason for caution, said Mildred Cho, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics… In one case, AI software incorrectly concluded that people with pneumonia were less likely to die if they had asthma ― an error that could have led doctors to deprive asthma patients of the extra care they need….

Medical AI, which pulled in $1.6 billion in venture capital funding in the third quarter alone, is “nearly at the peak of inflated expectations,” concluded a July report from the research company Gartner. “As the reality gets tested, there will likely be a rough slide into the trough of disillusionment.”

It’s important to remember that what many people are claiming as ‘artificial intelligence’ is hardly that… In reality, it’s predominantly algorithms leveraging large amounts of data.   As I’ve previously mentioned, I feel that I’m reliving the ballyhooed AI claims of the 1980s all over again.

 

June 29, 2019

Well, here is Joe from Forbes trying to steal my thunder in using ‘Augmented’ instead if ‘Artificial’:

Perhaps “artificial” is too artificial of a word for the AI equation. Augmented intelligence describes the essence of the technology in a more elegant and accurate way.

Not much more interesting in the article…

 

April 16, 2019

Here is another example of the underwhelming performance of technology mistakenly referred to “artificial intelligence”.  In this case, Google’s DeepMind tool was used to take a high school math test;

The algorithm was trained on the sorts of algebra, calculus, and other types of math questions that would appear on a 16-year-old’s math exam… But artificial intelligence is quite literally built to pore over data, scanning for patterns and analyzing them…. In that regard, the results of the test — on which the algorithm scored a 14 out of 40 — aren’t reassuring.

 

April 3, 2019

This is a very good article in the reputable IEEE Spectrum.  It explains some of the massive over-promising and under-delivering associated with the IBM Watson initiatives in the medical industry (note: I am an IBM stockholder):

Experts in computer science and medicine alike agree that AI has the potential to transform the health care industry. Yet so far, that potential has primarily been demonstrated in carefully controlled experiments… Today, IBM’s leaders talk about the Watson Health effort as “a journey” down a road with many twists and turns. “It’s a difficult task to inject AI into health care, and it’s a challenge. But we’re doing it.”

AI systems can’t understand ambiguity and don’t pick up on subtle clues that a human doctor would notice… no AI built so far can match a human doctor’s comprehension and insight… a fundamental mismatch between the promise of machine learning and the reality of medical care—between “real AI” and the requirements of a functional product for today’s doctors.

It’s been 50 years since the folks at Stanford first created the Mycin ‘expert system’ for identifying infections, and there is still a long-way to go.  That is one reason that I continue to refer to AI as “augmented intelligence”.

 

February 18, 2019

A recent article in Electrical Engineering Times, proclaims that the latest incarnation of AI represents a lot of “pretending”:

In fact, modern AI (i.e. Siri, IBM’s Watson, etc.) is not capable of “reading” (a sentence, situation, an expression) or “understanding” same. AI, however, is great at pretending as though it understands what someone just asked, by doing a lot of “searching” and “optimizing.”

You might have heard of Japan’s Fifth Generation Computer System, a massive government-industry collaboration launched in 1982. The goal was a computer “using massively parallel computing and processing” to provide a platform for future developments in “artificial intelligence.” Reading through what was stated then, I know I’m not the only one feeling a twinge of “Déjà vu.”…  

Big companies like IBM and Google “quickly abandoned the idea of developing AI around logic programming. They shifted their efforts to developing a statistical method in designing AI for Google translation, or IBM’s Watson,” she explained in her book. Modern AI thrives on the power of statistics and probability.

 

February 16, 2019

I’ve had lengthy discussions with a famous neurologist/computer scientist about the man-made creation of synthetic intelligence, which I contend is constrained by the lack of the normative model of the brain (i.e., an understanding at the biochemical level of brain processes such the formation of memories).  I’ve been telling him for the last 10 years that our current knowledge of the brain is similar to the medical knowledge reflected in the 17th century Rembrandt painting that depicts early medical practitioners performing a vivisection on the human body (and likely remarking “hey, what’s that?”).

Well, I finally found a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins that exclaims that science needs the equivalent of the periodic table of elements to provide a framework for brain functions:

Gül Dölen, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins, thinks that neuroscientists might need take a step back in order to better understand this organ… Slicing a few brains apart or taking a few MRIs won’t be enough… neuroscientists can’t even agree on the brain’s most basic information-carrying unit… 

The impact could be extraordinary, from revolutionizing AI to curing brain diseases.

 

November 14, 2018

It’s similar to the old retort for those who can’t believe the truth: don’t ask me about my opinion on the latest rendition of AI, just ask this executive at Google:

AI is currently very, very stupid,” said Andrew Moore, a Google vice president. “It is really good at doing certain things which our brains can’t handle, but it’s not something we could press to do general-purpose reasoning involving things like analogies or creative thinking or jumping outside the box.”

 

July 28, 2018

Here are some words from a venture capital investor that has had similar experiences to my own when it comes to (currently) unrealistic expectations from artificial intelligence (AI):

Last year AI companies attracted more than $10.8 billion in funding from venture capitalists like me. AI has the ability to enable smarter decision-making. It allows entrepreneurs and innovators to create products of great value to the customer. So why don’t I don’t focus on investing in AI?

During the AI boom of the 1980s, the field also enjoyed a great deal of hype and rapid investment. Rather than considering the value of individual startups’ ideas, investors were looking for interesting technologies to fund. This is why most of the first generation of AI companies have already disappeared. Companies like Symbolics, Intellicorp, and Gensym — AI companies founded in the ’80s — have all transformed or gone defunct.

And here we are again, nearly 40 years later, facing the same issues.

Though the technology is more sophisticated today, one fundamental truth remains: AI does not intrinsically create consumer value. This is why I don’t invest in AI or “deep tech.” Instead, I invest in deep value.

 

April 22, 2018

It’s interesting that so many famous prognosticators, such Hawking, Musk, et al., are acting like the Luddites of the 19th century.  That is, they make dire predictions that new technology is harboring the end of the world.  Elon Musk has gone on record stating that artificial intelligence will bring human extinction.

Fortunately, there are more pragmatic scientists, such as Nathan Myhrvold, that understand the real nature of technology adoption.  He uses the history of mathematics to articulate a pertinent analogy as well as justify his skepticism.

This situation is a classic example of something that the innovation doomsayers routinely forget: in almost all areas where we have deployed computers, the more capable the computers have become, the wider the range of uses we have found for them. It takes a lot of human effort and jobs to satisfy that rising demand.

 

March 21, 2018

One of the reasons that I still have not bought-into true synthetic/artificial intelligence is the fact that we still lack a normative model that explains the operation of the human brain.  In contrast, many of the other physiological systems can be analogized by engineering systems — the cardiovascular system is a hydraulic pumping system; the excretory system is a fluid filtering system; the skeletal system is a structural support system; and so on.

One of my regular tennis partners is an anesthesiologist who has shared with me that the medical practitioners don’t really know what causes changes in consciousness.  This implies that anesthesia is still based on ‘Edisonian’ science (i.e., based predominantly on trial and error without the benefit of understanding the deterministic cause & effects).  This highlights the fact that the model for what constitutes brain states and functions is still incomplete.  Thus, it’s difficult to create an ‘artificial’ version of that extremely complex neurological system.

 

March 17, 2018

A great summary description of the current situation from Vivek Wadhwa:

Artificial intelligence is like teenage sex: “Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Even though AI systems can now learn a game and beat champions within hours, they are hard to apply to business applications.

 

March 6, 2018

It’s interesting how this recent article about AI starts: “I took an Uber to an artificial intelligence conference… “  In my case, it was late 1988 and I took a taxi to an artificial intelligence conference in Philadelphia.  AI then was filled with all these fanciful promises, and frankly the attendance at the conference felt like a feeding frenzy.  It reminded me of the Jerry Lewis movie “Who’s Minding the Store” with all of the attendees pushing each other to get inside the convention hall.

Of course, AI didn’t take over the world then and I don’t expect it to now.  However, with advances in technology over the last 30 years, I do see the adoption of a different AI — ‘augmented intelligence’ –becoming more of a mainstay.  One reason (which is typically associated with the ‘internet of things’) is sensors cost next to nothing and they are much more effective – i.e., recognizing voice commands; recognizing images & shapes; determining current locations; and so on.  This provides much more human-like sensing that augments people in ways we have not yet totally imagined (e.g. food and voice recognition to support blind people).

On the flip side, there are many AI-related technologies that are really based more on the availability of large amounts of data and raw computing power.  These are often referred to with esoteric names such as neural networks and machine learning.  While these do not truly represent synthetic intelligence, they have the basis for making vast improvements in analyses.  For example, we’re working with a company to accumulate data on all the details of everything that they make to enable them to rapidly understand the true drivers of what makes a good part versus a bad part.  This is enabled by the combination of the sensors described above along with the advanced computing techniques.

The marketing people in industry have adopted the use of the phrase ‘digital transformation’ to describe the opportunities and necessities that exist with the latest technology.  For me, I just view it as the latest generation of computer hardware and software that is enabling another great wave —  If futurist Alvin Toffler were alive today, he’d likely be calling it the ‘fourth wave’.

Category: Business, Engineering  | 4 Comments
Communism, Capitalism… and Money
Friday, October 11th, 2019 | Author:

The latest with the NBA and China has focused a bright light on the tensions between Communism and Capitalism (always remember that the true tensions are between tyranny and anarchy).  It’s an interesting situation with all of the emerging American ‘woke’ corporations.  As the antics of the NBA clearly exhibit, the hypocrisy of virtue signaling is now becoming too obvious.

As Vladimir Lenin was famous for saying: “The Capitalists will sells us the rope in which to hang them”…  Or following the advice of the janitor at my elementary school: “Always follow the money trail”.

 

Do Google and Yahoo Provide ‘News’?
Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | Author:

Update

We now have a Google engineer stepping forward to explain the Google has innate bias in their search engine and news feed.

Hours after Google engineer Greg Coppola  appeared with James O’Keefe in a Project Veritas video, he was put on administrative leave by his company. In the video, Coppola said that he believed that Google News and Google’s search engine algorithms were biased

Is anyone really surprised that Google has shown news bias?  This doesn’t require a complex algorithm.  The Googlenicks just have to manage the sources of input to get the results that favor their desired political viewpoint (BTW, who really uses CNN as a competent news source?).

 

May 12, 2019

There is an article today at HotAir about Google favoring news from a small number of Left-leaning news sites (Is that a surprise?).  Various academic institutions performed a quantitative analysis by reviewing specific news articles and links.  I recall sharing a qualitative sampling and analysis back in April 2017 (see below)… The net-takeaway:

Google presents itself as a kind of internet utility which doesn’t take sides. But the results of this audit suggests it’s restricting news search results to a narrow band of left-leaning sources. This isn’t happening by accident. They have tweaked the code to make it work out this way. This probably had a far more serious impact on the 2016 election than anything the Russians did or attempted to do.

 

April 22, 2017

It’s amazing the drivel that covers the pages of the so called meaningful ‘news’ at the sites for Google News and Yahoo News.  Google is all about the mainstream media.  As you can see from the first screenshot below, they feature the usual suspects with articles from the Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington Post, etc.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo news site is fairly useless.  It reminds me of the magazines lining the checkout aisle at you local grocery store.  A little of National Star and People magazine.  As you can see in the second screenshot, they feature inane articles about the Kardashians and the cast from an old movie.  To make it even worse, Yahoo intersperses stealth ads that intentionally appear to be news articles.

Thank goodness for Feedly and the multitude of other information sites on the web.

Google News Extract

 

Yahoo News Extract

A Socialist Politician is a Hypocrite?!
Sunday, July 21st, 2019 | Author:

On-line users have called Bernie Sanders a hypocrite and mercilessly mocked him after the socialist firebrand admitted that he will have to cut the hours of staffers so that he can pay them the $15 minimum wage that his campaign exclaims is so essential for workers.

It’s OK. He’s a leftist. His logic doesn’t have to make sense.

The Professor of Economics from Harvard even has a blog posting with the appropriate title: “Demand Curves Slope Downward (even for socialists)”

Additive Manufacturing Conference in Detroit
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Author:

I spent a couple of days in Detroit at the annual RAPID Additive Manufacturing Conference, where I presented a paper on one of my company’s ceramic 3D-printing technology.  I stayed at the Marriott hotel at the Renaissance Center while attending the conference at the Cobo Convention Center.

California Ignores Economic Fundamentals
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 | Author:

An interesting evaluation and study of poverty rates around the United States places California as the worst State:

So how is it that California, which has spent nearly $1 trillion on antipoverty programs, has the highest poverty rate in the nation?… the state’s war on poverty is one of the causes of California’s impoverished state, and why it is home to about one-third of the nation’s welfare population despite having just 12 percent of the population.

It turns out that state and local bureaucrats who administer California’s antipoverty programs have proven stubbornly resistant to pro-work reforms that have been effective at spurring individuals to pull themselves out of poverty.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman warned about this problem more than 40 years ago: “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

 

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The Important Subtleties in the 10 Commandments
Monday, April 22nd, 2019 | Author:

I have a philosophical position that believes that that the natural entropy of human nature is towards corruption.  That is, left to our own devices, people manipulate and bend/break the rules in their societal situation to unduly benefit themselves (often to the detriment of others).  As proof, I often cite the 10 Commandments and the prevalent use of the word ‘not’.    You’ll notice that 8 of the 10 commandments are telling us things that we should not do…

  1. “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.”
  2. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
  3. “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
  4. “Honor thy father and mother.”
  5. “Thou shalt not kill.”
  6. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
  7. “Thou shalt not steal.”
  8. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
  9. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
  10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty convincing to me.

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Do US Tech Companies Have Too Much Influence?
Sunday, January 20th, 2019 | Author:

If you want to review business and political fireworks that will become front-page news, then take a look at the major US-based technology companies: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter.  These six behemoths control the vast majority of information flow, which results in tremendous influence over our daily lives.

Based on their business models, each of these companies embraces the notion of centralized control being good — i.e., the success of their business is inherently based on the idea that you give up your privacy and control to them for the promise of a better life.  Since this is very compatible with many of the tenets of Progressivism, all of these companies tend to be supportive of centralized control and a strong administrative state.

Is the momentum of these business giants along with the influence of the large government supporters too much to overcome?  What does this unprecedented influence mean for a Democratic Republic?

The initial reflex from our government is to either regulate these companies or “break-them-up”.  I do not find either of these actions as appropriate.   First, regulation inherently stifles innovation and often results in great reduction of freedoms contrary to our Bill of Rights.  Second, the anti-trust perspective does not take into account the over-sized influence that these technology companies possess.  Thus, a real solution will require the synthesis of a third option.

This cumulative posting started in February 2018, and I will continue posting articles below on this topic for the foreseeable future….

Update

A great quote from Dr. Robert Epstein, commenting on the power of Google search algorithms to sway opinion and influence elections:

“Who on Earth gave these private companies the power to make decisions about what everyone in the world is going to see or not see?  These companies shouldn’t have that power, period.”

 

November 11, 2019

Here is another interesting addition to the stories about the nefarious nature of the big tech companies:

A cache of leaked Facebook documents shows how the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip

Taken together, they show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users’ data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over the companies it partnered with

All the while, Facebook planned to publicly frame these moves as a way to protect user privacy, the documents show.

Think about that situation.  It sounds like accumulating confidential information about people for the purposes of blackmail…

 

August 15, 2019

Well, there now appears to be a smoking gun.  A Google senior engineer absconded with internal documents that apparently provide evidence that the company institutionalized its strong progressive position on everything large and small:

Among those documents is a file called “news black list site for google now.” The document, according to Vorhies, is a “black list,” which restricts certain websites from appearing on news feeds for an Android Google product. The list includes conservative and progressive websites, such as newsbusters.org and mediamatters.org. The document says that some sites are listed with or because of a “high user block rate.”

“My message to those that are on the fence is I released the documents. They can go in, they can see everything that Google is doing and then they can see the scale of it. Because I think that there’s a lot of engineers that have a hint that things are wrong, but they don’t understand the colossal scale that it’s at. And so for those people, I say, look at the documents, take the pulse of America, see what’s happening and come and tell the world you know what you already know to be true.”

 

August 6, 2019

There are many former Google engineers that are going public with their insider views.  In particular, they recently shared stories about how news sites pander to Google to ensure that they stay in their good graces:

As Silicon Valley seeks to enhance its control over the news consumers are able to view in the lead-up to 2020, experts say many publications are actively shaping their coverage to stay in “Big Tech’s” good graces… “When is the last time you saw an op-ed in The Washington Post that was deeply critical of Facebook or Google? When is the last time you saw Axios or Politico quote a tech whistleblower in a favorable light?” one industry insider asked.

If Google employees look at anything other than “approved” news outlets — or if they even fix a bug for a conservative-leaning outlet — it can cause problems in the workplace, according to a source who worked for Google who wished to remain anonymous.

 

July 29, 2019

Let’s talk about fake Russian conspiracies until we’re blue in the face.  In the meantime, credible sources explain matter-of-factly about the political influence of the big tech companies… and it’s crickets:

Google’s “Go Vote” reminder on Election Day in 2018 gave Democrats at least 800,000 more votes than it gave Republicans; that bias in Google search results may have shifted upwards of 78.2 million votes (spread across hundreds of state and regional races) to Democrats in the 2018 election

 

Any solution that involves Government censorship is not a good idea:

Senator Josh Hawley’s Social Media Addiction Reduction (“SMART”) Act puts the government squarely in the middle of American citizens private business. Government censorship is the Missouri Republican’s answer to the very real issues and flaws with social media. He’s wrong.

 

July 24, 2019

Given the common operating philosphy of big technology companies and Democrats, we certainly should not be surprised by these stealthy manipulations.   The natural entropy of large organizations is toward corruption, and the big US tech companies have the upper-hand like never before.

Greg Coppola, a senior software engineer who works on artificial intelligence at Google’s New York office, said he contacted Project Veritas out of concern that Big Tech and the media have merged with the Democrat party to sway political elections. “…I just know how algorithms are. They don’t write themselves. We write them to do what we want them to do,” he explained. “I look at search and I look at Google News, and I see what it’s doing.”

The whistleblower lamented that the tech industry is not interested in free thinking, questioning and debate, but rather in “calling people names to get them to toe a certain line.” …Robert Epstein, a computer expert (and Democrat) who testified before congress last week, said that the political bias of Google, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms could manipulate up to 15 million middle-of-the-road voters “without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.”

As mentioned numerous times in this posting, the big US tech companies have unprecedented influence over American citizens, and it’s power that has to be restrained.

 

July 23, 2019

As noted 18 months ago with the genesis of this posting, these are going to be interesting times.  It is now getting even more interesting: the US Department of Justice is opening a broad-based anti-trust review to determine whether the big tech companies are stifling competition in violation of federal law:

The Antitrust Division will work to determine whether companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple have “reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers” as they’ve grown dramatically in recent years and begun expanding into various industries by acquiring smaller potential competitors. The Federal Trade Commission is conducting a separate, more limited investigation into potential monopolistic abuses by Facebook and Amazon.

 

July 21, 2019

A great summary observation  from Joel Kotkin:

John D. Rockefeller tried to control energy distribution through his Standard Oil. Later, the Big Three ran the automobile businesses. These were powerful firms, but they could not, like Google, create algorithms that determined what people see, tilted not only toward their own commercial interest but their political predilections as well. In this way, what the techies are doing is oddly reminiscent of China’s efforts to control and monitor thoughts, sometimes assisted by these same U.S. tech firms.

 

July 16, 2019

The hearings have started.  Executives from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google testified before Congress today in a hearing examining the effect that their size has had on small businesses and their ability to innovate.   Each executive insisted that their platforms help smaller businesses reach customers and that they face stiff competition.

[Congressional representatives] criticized U.S. antitrust enforcers — specifically the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission — for not challenging the tech giants during their years of explosive growth. “In the two decades since the Justice Department filed its landmark monopolization case against Microsoft, there has not been a single complaint filed by either agency alleging anti-competitive conduct in this market,” he said. “Together, these enforcement decisions have created a de facto immunity for online platforms.”

 

June 26, 2019

Many folks that are just now discovering the power that the big tech companies possess are focused on punishing these internet enterprises.  This is not the proper direction for our country.   Indeed, I’ve mentioned about a third option for controlling the power of the big tech companies and I think that Mike Masnick at Techdirt has the right idea when he advocates for requiring open protocols (i.e., enabling users to avoid lock-in to any big tech provider):

A simple “punish big tech because big tech is bad” may get people riled up, but the chances for negative consequences are too great to ignore… 

…an even better solution is not just about forced interoperability, but moving to a world of protocols instead of platforms. In such a world, interoperability would be standard, but would also be just one piece of the puzzle for making the world more dynamic and competitive. If we relied on more open platforms, then third parties could build all sorts of new services, from better front ends, to better features and tools, and users could choose which implementation(s) they wanted to use, making switching from any particular service provider much easier — especially if that provider did anything to hurt user trust.

This concept may be a little difficult for the average Congressman, but it’s similar to the idea of advocating for 120-volt alternating current (AC) as the standard for electricity in the home (even after Edison killed the circus elephant with AC power).  This led to tremendous business growth for electric tools, fixtures, and appliances based on a standard of interoperability.

 

June 25, 2019

I suppose many people are not surprised by the overt political agendas that have been hidden by the big tech companies.  These are now becoming exposed.  For example, it appears that Project Veritas has uncovered documentation about Google’s plans to control the political process in the United States:

The Project Veritas video reveals that instead of merely doing its job as the world’s leading Internet search and archiving tool, Google is using its power over what Americans see on the Internet as a partisan political weapon to force extreme, un-American leftism on all of us.

Meanwhile, Apple is now playing God by defining acceptable apps in their store based on “social media membership”:

Apple threatened to kick Parler off its App Store if the social media website did not ban content they deemed inappropriate… Matze said they were told they had to change their community guidelines so they reflected Apple’s. They were also told to remove certain kinds of individuals.

 

June 17, 2019

Instead of regulation or anti-trust, I’ve talked about a “third-way” to enable an internet grounded more in free speech.  This proposal by Alec Sears is a decent start for some potential innovative approaches:

Here’s one simple solution to hit tech companies where it hurts. Any person who is banned from a platform must be paid whatever money that platform made from their activity, and the banned user must also be provided with a list of places their data was sold.

If these social media companies are banning people out of some moral “indignation,” then they should have no problem giving back the money they made off of them.

This legislation would circumvent any terms document and give users more insight into the money-making aspect of social media. It would also allow companies to continue banning users but at a tangible cost.

This policy is inherently bipartisan. Anyone who is banned would be entitled to compensation.

 

June 9, 2019

This topic on the oversized influence of Big Tech in the US started on this blog almost 18 months ago.  If you read the many postings here in chronological order, you will get the impression that there has been a rapid evolution and discovery about the pernicious nature of these companies.

Well, now the US government has decided to intervene.  The House Judiciary Committee is launching an antitrust investigation into big technology companies and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also appear to be joining in the investigations.

 

June 3, 2019

Here is the latest video from Prager University on selective censorship by the  Big Tech platforms (ironically it’s on YouTube in restricted status).  It’s narrated by Brent Bozell and titled “Big Tech is Big Brother” and focuses on how Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., behave in a manner akin to Big Brother in the Orwell novel “1984”:

 

May 19, 2019

This issue concerning the power and influence of the major US tech companies continues to grow.  It’s the top topic for many folks pondering the economic and political future of our country.  At the Points and Figures web site, Mr. Carter clearly identifies that most pundits are in one of two camps (illustrated by the many postings on this topic here):

I would tread lightly and wade into the regulatory/antitrust water slowly.  It’s pretty clear there is a problem.  It’s very unclear how big it is and what we should do about it.  

 

May 3, 2019

It appears that the pressure on the technology companies is starting to make a mark.  Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post urging governments to regulate Facebook and other technology companies. Naturally, Zuckerberg is promoting this action in his own self-interest, which is to avoid the inevitable — that is, the forced breakup of Facebook.

Well, today the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes, has his own editorial.  This time in the New York Times.  Mr. Hughes indicates that it’s time to break up Facebook.

 

April 9, 2019

An interesting article in the New Republic that details how Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are starting to compete with one another (does this throw cold water on the anti-trust angle?):

The tech giants were once content to stay in their own lanes. Facebook had social media, Google had search, Amazon had e-commerce, and Apple had hardware… Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook want to make it unable for users to live without them.

We created antitrust laws out of concern that monopoly corporations could rewrite laws, hoard profits, squeeze suppliers, and dictate the structures of daily life from their lofty perch. It may seem positive that these companies are taking on one another, with consumers poised to enjoy a surplus in any war for their attention. But when it concludes, the outcome could be a kind of digital tyranny, where participation in society demands signing up with a giant corporate overlord. At stake isn’t simply market competition, but the very notion of freedom.

 

March 30, 2019

Does the appointment of a new Attorney General usher-in a more aggressive approach in dealing with the technology behemoths?  There is a good chance that William Barr will pursue the antitrust route:

Big Tech is on a “lobbying spree,” spending money on influence peddlers in a manner that has shocked many veteran DC insiders. Big Tech’s money will be going head-to head-against Barr, who bluntly stated at his confirmation hearing that, “people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers.”

De-Platforming, discrimination, and improper data collection continue unabated by the nation’s biggest tech giants as their influence gets more significant than ever before. 

 

March 3, 2019

Republican Senator Josh Hawley has taken a position:

“We need to end the sweetheart deal between big tech and big government,” 

Hawley is starting to brew thoughts that technology companies are controlling information, and the government is actively encouraging it.

 

February 10, 2019

You know freedom and liberty are going in the wrong direction when the lines between tyrannical government and big tech companies start to blur:

Google has reportedly started censoring its search results in Russia, in order to comply with the country’s laws. Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, publishes a blacklist of banned websites that cover illegal topics such as drugs and suicide, and that publicize corruption investigations conducted by the opposition. Google has apparently now deleted links to around 70% of the sites on that blacklist.

 

January, 25, 2019

A good article at Wired that furthers the discussion about the evolving symbiosis between Big Government and Big Tech Businesses.  The author contends that they both benefit from one another:

If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech’s influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington’s hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon’s two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area—with 25,000 jobs to offer.

The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek, gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp. The question now—as in previous such moments—is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. 

 

January 9, 2019

A great article at Red State that starts to put a new perspective on the relationship between Big Government and Big Business, and how it’s starting to align both the Left and Right against the big tech companies:

The old political paradigm into which DC has spent the last many decades cramming the country – is coming apart at the seams… the Left has all along the way loathed business of any size or kind.  Unless it’s really Big Business – and really Big Business is giving the Left massive amounts of money.  At which point the Left becomes the political arm of – and shock troops for – Big Business. 

As government’s power shot through the stratosphere and beyond – so too did the allure for Big Business to bribe Big Government to bend the latter to the former’s will… That’s $6 trillion per annum of just federal government muscle.  Flexed over a nation of 320 million people – whose entire economic output is $18 trillion.

Big Businesses saw what a powerful crony Big Government could be – and started bribing their way in.  Creating an unholy alliance between two massive forces – the old DC paradigm pigeonholed as enemies.

Bezos [Amazon] has been using his Big Business’ massive money – to buy Big Government.  And utterly unsurprisingly – it has worked like a charm.  Over and over and over again… What’s interesting is, the accumulation of Big Government-Big Business Amazon cronyism is piled so high – the Left is now protesting too.

 

Click the ‘more’ text below to see additional postings on this topic

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The Cost of Healthcare
Sunday, December 30th, 2018 | Author:

The cost of healthcare is out of control.

Related image

Update

I recently read a very detailed book on the various sources of cost in the American healthcare system, “An American Sickness“, which describes all the components and players involved in delivering medical care.   It’s fairly clear that one critical step in the right direction of getting control over the cost of healthcare is to provide much greater transparency into the cost/price of every medical procedure.  That is, take the first step in getting the consumer more actively involved in evaluating the cost/benefit of each healthcare intervention.

 

July 20, 2018

The discussions about healthcare and socialized medicine appear to have taken a back seat to current economic issues, but the challenge of escalating costs continues.  Recently, the Goodman Institute shared the ‘revolutionary’ notion of applying the free market in healthcare:

For as long as I have been in the field, health economics has been dominated by the idea that the free market can’t work in health care.  Being a contrarian, I’m prepared to ask: What if the free market could work? What would it look like?

The average knee replacement on MediBid costs around $15,000. The normal charge by U.S. hospitals is around $60,000 and the average insurance payment is about $36,500.  A similar range exists for hip replacements, with an average Medibid price of about $19,000.

 

October 27, 2016

What’s worse than Obamacare?

Simple: Hillarycare.

If she becomes President, you can count on more Government control of healthcare and a downward spiral in the quality of medical services.

This week, the White House finally admitted what had become obvious for months: premiums within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges will skyrocket in 2017. Unfortunately, neither the administration nor its intended successor Hillary Clinton demonstrated a grip on the failures that have driven the markets to collapse, or the need for a clear change in direction. Instead, both argued for Band-Aids that will make matters even worse.

Source: The Fiscal Times

We are at a juncture of time where your voting decisions are deciding the future of your family.

 

May 1, 2016

The Slow Economic Death from Obamacare… A good summary over at American Thinker:

Obamacare…  the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The first major bump in the road is the concept of essential benefits. According to the Obamacare website, “Ten essential health benefits must be offered at no dollar limits on every plan under the Affordable Care Act.” Much like having to buy every option for your new car even if you only want the basics.

The next bump concerns pre-existing conditions. “No more pre-existing conditions means you can’t be denied coverage, charged more, or denied treatment based on health status.”

The third bump is called guaranteed issue. “ObamaCare makes health insurance guaranteed issue meaning you can’t be denied health status, age, gender, or other factors.”These three features are hallmarks of Obamacare, allowing anyone and everyone to receive healthcare insurance, regardless of their health, age, or concurrent illnesses, and have coverage well beyond what that particular individual needs. Compassionate and fair? Sure. Economically realistic. No way.

 

October 21, 2013

As mentioned numerous times on this blog, it all about addressing the issue of OPM – Other Peoples Money.  That it, people must have a stake in the cost and delivery of their healthcare:

Give consumers an incentive to care about the cost of medical care and the cost of medical care will decline. That’s economics 101 (a course Barack Obama obviously didn’t take), straight out of Adam Smith…

The fact is, 315 million consumers of health care saying, “How much is this going to cost” will rein in healthcare expenditures far more effectively than 315,000 government bureaucrats meddling in the marketplace

via How to Cut Medical Costs 101.

 

September 19, 2013

This is a very important article in Harvard Business Review, which talks about better ways to encourage price shopping for healthcare:

[W]e need to understand why Americans aren’t bargain hunters for health care, especially given the constant drumbeat about the high cost of health care in the United States… One potential reason these initiatives have little bite is that most insured consumers pay only a fraction of the true cost of health care and thus have little incentive to shop for lower-cost care. 

Moving forward, we need to harmonize patient-oriented and provider-oriented strategies for encouraging price shopping. Patients need easily accessible information about price that is tailored to their individual needs. This information should include not only the out-of-pocket price of the service (e.g., a doctor visit) but also more holistic information on downstream costs for the entire episode of care and data on the quality of care.

 

July 15, 2012

The citizens of the US don’t yet appreciate how screwed-up the approach to healthcare is going to be under Obamacare… I’ve mentioned to my colleagues numerous times that OPM (“Other People’s Money”) is the underlying problem with the notion of our healthcare system — that is, when you’re not the one picking up the tab, you’re less concerned with the cost.  As a result, the cost goes up unabated and the quality of the service goes down.

You can watch this simple video below that does a nice job of explaining the likely results from our move towards socialized medicine.

 

March 7, 2012

Healthcare and OPM

I always view the issue of “Other People’s Money” as the primary source of economic problems.  OPM is the core problem with healthcare costs…  Of course, OPM is the opiate for the Obama supporters.  Thus, the focus on the Obama “budget”.

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May 4, 2010

Well, the medical insurance premiums for our small business just increased 21% this year… I can see that Obamacare is working already.

 

November 26, 2010

Here’s a way to improve service by combining TSA airport security with physical exams… 

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Septembr 27, 2009

A great article from Greg Mankiw in the New York Times… He discusses the economic implications of healthcare. A few key extracts:

One thing I did not consider was the price. Like most consumers of health care, I was insulated from economic concerns. I knew that the insurance company — and, indirectly, all its policyholders — would pick up most of the tab. This arrangement, encouraged by the tax system, ensures that I get the benefit of the pills while paying little of the extra costs they generate…

Despite all the talk about waste and abuse in our health system (which no doubt exists to some degree), the main driver of increasing health care costs is advances in medical technology. The medical profession is always figuring out new ways to prolong and enhance life, and that is a good thing, but those new technologies do not come cheap. For each new treatment, we have to figure out if it is worth the price, and who is going to get it.

The push for universal coverage is based on the appealing premise that everyone should have access to the best health care possible whenever they need it. That soft-hearted aspiration, however, runs into the hardheaded reality that state-of-the-art health care is increasingly expensive. At some point, someone in the system has to say there are some things we will not pay for. The big question is, who? The government? Insurance companies? Or consumers themselves? And should the answer necessarily be the same for everyone?”


September 4, 2008

A Democrat’s approach to prepare for single payer healthcare…

demhealthcare.jpg
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