Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
The founder mentality needs to be imbued into graduating chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, biologists and physicists.
We need thousands of startups that work on our society's biggest problems.
Probably a platform for energy startups is needed. Something transformative to the energy industry as the internet was for software.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
"Some suspect it is a ploy to defuse social tension at a time of financial crisis and to deflect attention from the closely watched trial of murdered investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya."
Boy it is tense these days. You know people are stressed out when a highly publicized beating softens the public mood.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
In modern society I believe health care should be a fundamental benefit of society, not a privilege. But, the question is: how can we guarantee coverage and still promote a competitive dynamic to drive American medicine to be the finest possible care?
To start, we completely shutdown the health insurance industry. In its place the federal government provides health care spending accounts. Each person physically located in the US, who is either a citizen, green card holder, work visa holder, or a tax payer for 1 year, you get an account.
The accounts are funded based on a licensed and boarded doctor's assessment of your health. Doc says you have no problems, you get a small fund sufficient for your annual checkups and such. Doc says you have diabetes or cancer, you get sufficient funds to buy services and drugs from the best institutions.
If you show up at the Emergency Room and a doctor says you need emergency care, Uncle Sugar picks up the tab.
We train physicians to make critical decisions. We should empower them to make those decisions and hold them accountable to the highest ethical standards. Our best minds should be drawn to medical professions by high esteem, social and ethical conscience, and pay commensurate with their talent. (Bias alert: My wife is a doctor).
If a medical professional acts fraudulently to score government dollars: jail. Real jail.
With your spending account, you can buy health care from any accredited medical provider. You can spend on whatever you deem necessary. Under normal, healthy conditions, when you run out, you run out. If you have a serious disease or condition, we as Americans commit to caring for each other; the ill should essentially have a blank check.
If you are wealthy enough to afford supplementing your account: God Bless America. But if you become sick, rich or poor, you receive the best care we can muster and the rest of us pay for it. We pay for it because we can, because we are in life together, and because caring for one another will restore a basic dignity to American society.
My plan will cost an absolute fortune. However, it is the most pervasive and sustained stimulus facility possible. We'll drive job creation in nursing, doctoring, pharmaceutical research, medical devices, imaging equipment, and fitness. Businesses will stay in the US because workers will demand the best health care. Those who can will compete for jobs here and we will restore immigration as one of the most potent drivers of American economic growth. We will relieve american business of the health care albatross.
Welfare state you say? Bunk. We throttle spending based on doctors' diagnosis of illness. We only release dollars for medical care. We spend on people when they need it. Medical service providers will have to compete on quality and on cost. If you want a car, a house, some pizza and tickets to the movies: get a job.
If you, as many people do, travel from abroad to seek medical treatment, you are welcome. You'll just have to pick up your own tab. Medical tourism could be a huge, profitable, and taxable industry.
If you are an illegal alien: you have to pick up the tab. If you played by the rules, and you have a work visa, we cover you.
Ultimately, we should double the student population at medical schools, nursing schools, and technician programs.
Without the perverse incentives of health insurance, where inefficiency means lower costs, healthcare efficiency and effectiveness will accelerate to an incredible degree.
Overall, we'll spend more on health care. But we will finally get what we pay for: the best medical system possible.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Matching funds sounds like a good idea, but wasn't the entire idea of the Troubled Assets Relief Program to purchase the troubled assets? Maybe this is better, but should Treasury be turning a $700 Billion-with-a-B plan on a dime?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The proposal is a little fuzzy to me, but the focus is brilliant: deleverage the consumer.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Seems to me the healthy advice of "cut costs" is obfuscating the permanent necessicities of growing a business: solve a real problem for customers who will pay you, and do it as efficiently as you can.
The "hall pass" comment just ticks me off.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
States passed legislation to lengthen the notice required to homeowners who default on their mortgages. So, actual foreclosures fell while the pipeline filled with notices. This month the first foreclosures affected by the laws are being processed. As a result, there is a big jump, and more to come. At least the states have more visibility into impending foreclosure rates.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Boomer Bust: How Will the Economy Rebound Without Post-War Babies Financing Their Harleys? - WSJ.com
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Well, I guess one way to educate the constituency is to let the market plunge for one day. Anyone else worried about US credit after the bailout?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a gift for explaining even the most complex challenges in a way that the majority of Americans could appreciate. FDR explained the depression and the second world war. In so doing FDR lead the way through the most trying challenges in US history (current events included).
Either President Bush, Senator McCain, or Senator Obama needs to explain the current crisis. The credit crisis hasn't yet tightened consumer access to financing, so it is difficult to appreciate how the problems extend beyond Wall Street. We need a leader who can articulate the source of the problems and the implications of typical Americans.
Only then can broad support among voters be built to support the kind of dramatic intervention needed. It is unrealistic for party leaders to expect congressmen and senators to vote counter to overwhelming constituent opposition.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Since I know as much about the financial crisis as McCain, Obama, or any member of Congress (which is to say nothing), I figured I could propose my own plan. The root of all the financial troubles is bad mortgages. Too many Americans bought houses they could not afford, by using "innovative" financing like adjustable rate mortgages, or even better, interest-only adjustable rate mortgages. Home buyers stretched as far as possible to finance purchases, the mortgage industry handed them more rope to hang themselves, and housing prices surged into a bubble because of the escalating availability of funds. So, to me, this just means many houses are mortgaged for more than their "real" market value, and many home owners are living with mortgages they can't afford. Everything else - mortgage back securities, mortgage insurance, credit defaults on institutions that own mortgage backs - are all financial leveraging and hocus-pocus. These instruments are evaporating and causing the financial industry to "de-leverage", which is a polite way of saying lose a huge amount of paper wealth. The game on Wall Street has been to re-package and pass around all these mortgages because Wall Street basically makes money on transactions. The more money changes hands, the better. So, besides the poor sobs who innovate on Wall Street, who cares about these paper losses? Pretty much anyone who needs to borrow money, which in America is everyone. Banks are folding at such a clip that banks are afraid to loan money to each other. To compensate, the banks charge each other more interest. To continue to make a profit, the banks charge businesses and consumers more interest. Taking loans is much less attractive, so fewer are taken, and basically the economy hits a real recession, maybe worse. So, what the hay is my plan? So far in this crisis, we've been shuffling the levered paper around. Everyone who holds the bad paper eventually suffers a credit downgrade, which means you need to post more collateral for loans and pay higher interest. That kicks off a spiral that leads quickly to insolvency. Now, I know Lehman Brothers is the proverbial fly on keester of the elephantine US Government. But we're talking about three quarters of a trillion dollars; the Federal Reserve's entire balance sheet is "just" a trillion dollars. I don't think it is a good idea for the US taxpayer to attempt to swallow all that bad debt. Instead, what if the individual property owners appeal to the US government in the event they are at risk of foreclosure. The government then buys the property from the bank holding the mortgage for tax appraisal value, and writes a new, affordable mortgage for the home owner. The difference, I think, is the US avoids absorption of the leveraged instruments. By only paying the current value of the underlying real estate the US would hold physical assets (the real estate) as well as mortgage obligations from home owners. It also focuses the expended funds to fend off foreclosures (many of the bundled mortgages are not at risk of default). Also, while this plan would stem a panic, it does not completely isolate irresponsible financial institutions and individuals from the free market.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
History will judge Secretary Paulson and Congress' action, or lack thereof, in this financial crisis. But, I have to believe Paulson will always garner high regard for his anticipation and preparedness. The WSJ mentions Paulson's "Break the Glass" scenrios. I find it remarkable, laudable, that he and his staff were ready with a plan ahead of the current turmoil.
Who knows if the Paulson plan will work or even pass. Regardless, I am impressed by the foresight to prepare the plan 9 months ago.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
My wife is a physician. In doctor-speak she is in "medicine", which means she isn't a specialist. She works in a practice, caring for adults. As is typical for physicians, her earnings are proportionate to the number of clinical hours -- hours spent with patients. An arrangement that seems totally reasonable. But she spends (in my completely unscientific estimation) about 1-1.5x her patient time filing paperwork, much of which is for insurance purposes. Medical treatment depends on thorough records, so the time investment is understandable and necessary for the patient's care. But, no one pays for the hours of paperwork (besides the doctor of course). Insurance forms are extensive, but bear no cost for the insurance companies - they are only billed for clinical time. Paperwork is the most infamous time drain in medicine. But there is no incentive to reduce the time spent on paperwork because there is no cost - doctor's don't bill for it. It's just a hunch, but I suspect that if doctors billed insurance companies for hours spent on paperwork and other vital, but non-clinical time, we should quickly have a far more efficient medical system.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
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