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January 2014

Price controls hit Venezuela…this will not end well!

Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela

By EWAN ROBERTSON

TAGS

economic war

Price Controls

Mérida, 24th January 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A law limiting costs, prices and profit margins across the Venezuelan economy came into effect yesterday.

The law is designed to prevent over-pricing, speculation and other abuses against consumer rights which have been occurring in the South American country.

It was drawn up by President Nicolas Maduro after problems with Venezuela’s currency control system and what officials argue is an “economic war” being waged by anti-government business sectors have created economic imbalances for consumers such as high inflation and shortages in some basic products.

via Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela | venezuelanalysis.com.

This….will not end well.

Many years ago I got to become friends with a young man from Caracas at one of my father’s BBQs. This was about a year before Chavez became President. He came from a well to do family who was in tool and die making. Anyways, he worked in retail before coming here and I learned a thing or two about how it is down there. Essentially, you had over the decades something akin to how our health insurance companies operated here, were a select few manage to consolidate and get the state to give its blessing. The state allowed and aided a select few to dominate at the expense of a real free market in retail.

Well..fast forward to today and you have the end result of state meddling/crony capitalism with a cabal of business interests. One hand helping the other. But instead of breaking up these retail combines and allowing the formation of a real free market for retail, we get something worse. Very rare does command economies and their price control schemes work out well. The fundamental forces of Supply & Demand ultimately will win out in one form or another. Incentives will be shifted, shortages will begin, oh the list goes on and on. We have seen this time and time again, be it here in the US or Cuba or the USSR or wherever, it almost always fails.

This, unfortunately for the average Venezuelan, in the end…will not end well.

L’Isle-Verte

My heart goes out to those surviving seniors and the families of the victims of the great tragedy in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec. What a horrible way to go. I think of my 88 year old father and others in my family of similar ages when I see the story of L’Isle-Verte. For the uninitiated here in the US, there was a major fire in an old folks home where virtually every one, except for a small few, had perished. Between the blazing fire that quickly spread to the death-inducing freezing hitting North America, that had almost little to no chance. Once again, my heart goes out to those who survived and the families of the victims.

The Return of the Automat?

I’m going to make a prediction here, starting either this year or next, you will start to see self-checkout systems at fast food joints. Now I wasn’t alive when these were big, but many decades ago they used to have these places called Automats, where one picked an item plunked down some change in a machine and you got a fresh meal. Think sorta like a room with vending machines and tables and a microwave today, only back then it was a hot meal already made.

An automat from 1904

I think you could start to see that again where one goes into a Burger King (for example), play with a touch screen and up comes your food. This isn’t a slam on raising the minimum wage, but you have to consider the laws of economics (especially with incentives and cost substitution). As would a consumer pick a viable substitute item if their first choice was beyond their budget, so would a business owner seek to do the same if there was a viable labor substitute.

Another move step closer in me losing love of Obamacare

Accenture replaces CGI for troubled Obamacare site

Thursday, January 16, 2014

CGI Federal has been replaced as the lead contractor for the Obamacare enrollment website by Accenture after a series of setbacks.

The Accenture contract which will replace CGI Federal’s contract after it is scheduled to end on the28th February, has been valued at £58 million.

The HealthCare.gov portal which failed to function after becoming overloaded by visitors, provides enrolment services to the public, as part of the U.S. government’s nation healthcare reform plans.

Accenture Federal Services chief executive David Moskovitz, said: “Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience in building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving HealthCare.gov.”

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which supervised the launch, said: ““As CMS moves forward in our efforts to help consumers access quality and affordable health coverage, we have selected Accenture to become the lead contractor for the HealthCare.gov portal, and to prepare for next year’s open enrolment period”.

via Accenture replaces CGI for troubled Obamacare site – News – outsourcing – sourcingfocus.com.

In the past few months I helped 4 people get plans. I dealt with their crap website. So far, only 1 person even was contacted by the insurance providers. When the Affordable Care Act passed, I approved the concept, having dealt with private insurers who have screwed me and family and friends in the past. I grudgingly approved of the mandate, which goes against my civil libertarian ideals  because I’ve seen a lot of people either unable to get insurance get financially burned using the ER or simply decided to not get insurance even if they could afford it and pass on the cost to others. As a disabled person, I approved of pre-existing conditions portion of the law. The law was based on Nixoncare, Romneycare and Swisscare and what the Heritage Foundation proposed; the Swiss had it for almost 20 years and from what I can tell is highly successful (it is still slightly different than Obamacare and Romneycare).

Saying all that, the legislation has a lot of problems. While I personally would have preferred a single payer system or a “public option” or at least some kind of system that had univesal coverage. But we didn’t get that, we got what conservatives proposed in the past. It is what it is. But, then I see here something like this, that our tax dollars are being used for firm who will outsource the labor overseas. The website may have been done this way as well. Look, if a private firm wants to outsource to an offshore location, hey it is their money. But when it comes to utilizing OUR tax dollars, I want the work kept inside our borders! Between the half ass follow through by insurers/system after signing up to now this, I most likely will have to re-think my support for Obamacare. It probably doesn’t matter what I think, not like it has any impact. But still man, it ain’t right that our tax dollars be sent overseas for work that could have been done here. And don’t even get me started on how even when it is done here, a lot of software firms are utilizing H1-B visas to bring in workers from India. How many coders here are looking for work? There are Americans who are easily as qualified who could have coded for that damn website. But no, American tax dollars for foreign workers. Madness..I tell you..pure madness.

Why God shouldn’t be on our money or in our pledges

They use God as a cheap political ploy, which if you think about on a theological level, goes against I think 2 Commandments. Now whether you believe in God or not, shoving some deity’s name in our faces all the time just isn’t right on so many levels. For those that believe in such, it is a slap in their face because first I think it cheapens their deity and secondly such affirmations are insincere at best.

For the rest of us, it is a weird phenomenon in a secular society that a segment in society within a political class is trying to prove something that everyone else knows that they aren’t exactly holding truth to. Simply ask yourself this one question, if you are a believer of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, given what US currency and oaths have gone to be used for, would such a deity approve that his name be used for such?

pledge