Obamacare and the No Free Lunch Principle

Like most of my blogs, this one is starting because of something that I heard (from a left-wing nut-job, of course) that has been bothering me quite a bit.

I was using Twitter in the way that most conservatives do….to find and pass along info the Main Stream Media glossed over or passed on entirely, and began my second favorite use of Twitter: arguing with a liberal.

The thing that really got to me was the way he wrote me off, as most Leftists and Liberals do when they hit a brick wall while in a discussion/argument with a Conservative; by calling me a racist Republican.  Sorry, wrong on both counts, but good try.  Do they not understand that most of the intelligent world has caught on to that cop-out and understands it’s the Liberal “white flag” meaning that you know you’ve been beat?

The argument which preceded my mislabeling was about Obamacare and the recent tax increases.  Before it devolved into name calling, he asked what was to me a funny question: “How do you not understand that raising taxes on the rich and providing free care to everyone is needed for our economy?  Don’t you know anything about Economics????”

Funny enough, yes.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Marketing, owned my own business in college and am now working in the business office of one of the nation’s top 5 hospitals….I left the Army part of my resume out because, while the government spending side of the argument will play in here, my role as a Green Beret didn’t have much to do with spending decisions or economics.  But based on the other experience, I’d say I have a little more Economics background, both Macro and Micro, than the average journalist writing for a left-wing online publication.

I was introduced to the “No Free Lunch” principle in Honors Economics class in High School.  My teacher was one of my top 5 I’ve ever had, and she is probably the reason I never switched majors in college and knew Business was for me from Day 1.

There are quite a few places you can find this principle quoted and explained on the internet; basically, the principle says that nothing is free….and the principle can be applied to any tangible good, such as a lunch, or an intangible good, as the time taken to sit down to said lunch.

This is because even if you aren’t paying for it, somebody is.  There is an entire supply chain that is required to turn grain into wheat, wheat into bread, package that bread, ship it to the restaurant, etc.  Even if the restaurant bakes its own bread, chances are they got the ingredients from someone else, and even if it was at no cost, the time spent procuring these items is valuable.

There is another great example I read about Bill Gates online this morning; it is estimated he makes about $250/second, so if he were walking down the street and saw a $100 bill, would he bother to bend over and pick it up?  If so, his opportunity cost in the 4 seconds it took him to pick up $100 would have lost him $900.  Basic Economics and Business 101, although these principles should obviously be applied to things besides walking down the street and eating a sandwich.

So, now that I’ve scratched the surface and saved you a couple of grand on Micro and Macro Economics classes, back to my current job (besides author, which is why you’re probably reading this blog in the first place).  My 9-5 is in the business office of one of the top 5 hospitals in the nation.

As such, I get a lot of notifications to changes in our contracts with many of our suppliers of medical devices.  Health Care is a big business these days, and if you didn’t know that, you’re not paying attention.

I received a notification today that another one of our device manufacturers is increasing their prices and lowering services because they have to fire staff.  Why?  Because of the new 2.3%  Federal Excise Tax on Medical Devices for Obamacare.  I also have many sales representatives from these companies who are having their pay reduced, having the taxes taken out of their commissions, or are being required to pay in other ways.

But I thought Obamacare was the Panacea to end all of our ills?  Isn’t it just a harmless ray of sunshine, made to spread love and care throughout the world with no unintended consequences or victims?  And didn’t the President say it would come at no extra cost???

Well, that’s certainly how it was portrayed, but the answers to those questions is No, No, and NO.

Here’s the most basic thing I’ve learned through my time working on the business side of hospitals: insurance companies and medical manufacturers (you can even include Big Pharma in there) ALWAYS win, and they ALWAYS pass the bill along to the consumers.

One of my sales rep friends told me a funny story about a company trip to New York for a business conference last year.  He had never been to Manhattan before, and he said he was dumbfounded the first time he saw it, especially working in the medical industry.  Next time you’re there or see a picture, pay attention to who owns most of the tallest buildings: insurance companies.

I work for a teaching and community hospital; long story short, that means we provide top-tier medical treatment to anyone, regardless of insurance status.  But I thought that didn’t exist and Obamacare was fixing that?  Wrong again.  We have multiple hospitals in our enterprise, and a number very close to 50% of our patients are either Medicare, Medicaid, CCS, International Clinic, Childrens Hospital, Veterans Administration, or no insurance at all.  And Obamacare is going to hurt us.

You see, even though we see all of these patients on government sponsored programs, we are not a government-owned facility.  And when we see a patient who is uninsured or under insured, the medical device companies and insurance companies don’t take it easy on us or give us a break; we get less back from the government than we would another patient, but pay full price to whoever supplied the required devices.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s where the “Free Lunch Principle” concept kicks in; Obamcare was made to make it cheaper on you to get insurance or healthcare, but in no way is making it cheaper for hospitals.  God forbid they reduce the litigious liability insurance that hospitals face against teams of ambulance chasers just waiting to take us down.

On the contrary, Obamacare is made to make it easier and give that lunch to some in the population, while taking a bigger bite of the sandwiches of those who work hard to pay for them out of their own pocket, with our own blood, sweat and tears.

I live in California, which already has the highest healthcare and insurance costs in the nation.  Why?  Because the Medi-cal (Medicaid) system here has become so overrun that those of us who actually work, pay taxes and act like responsible adults and take care of ourselves have to pay for those that don’t; and since this state takes it upon itself to welcome non-producers with open arms and give them welfare and medi-cal immediately, and ask nothing of them in return, it is only getting worse.

So who’s paying for the Obamacare lunch?  If you’re reading this, probably you.  If you are one of the declining number of Americans who actually work or do anything beneficial for society and earn money and pay taxes, you are paying for that lunch.  Even before Obamacare starts, we are starting to see these taxes come on board.

The manufacturers aren’t eating that cost; the hospitals aren’t eating that cost; the insurance companies definitely aren’t eating it.  But since the people getting Obamacare aren’t paying to begin with (or are paying well below its actual cost) guess who gets the tab after they’ve finished their meals and left the restaurant?  Us.

The hardworking American taxpayer who is constantly hearing that they “aren’t paying their fair share.”  As the unemployment, welfare and food stamp numbers skyrocket with people who aren’t paying ANY share, we are being called the bad guy and accused of trying to keep the money that we worked for while our tax burden and costs grow heavier and heavier.  And don’t expect a thank you.

If I go too much further this will probably devolve into at least a baker’s dozen other tangents, so I’ll leave it there.  I hope you enjoyed this Robert Patrick Lewis ECO 101 presentation; I hope you learned something, I hope you’re a little more informed, and I hope you understand that this will not end well…..as long as you’re the person paying for lunch.

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Education, Taxation without Representation, Job Creators, MSM Spin

“I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.”

– Dudley Field Malone

To start this one off, I have to give a little bit of recommended reading; there will be a few terms used here that may seem interchangeable, but are actually quite different (democrat, liberal, leftism).  To get a better understanding of these terms, please read “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” by Dennis Prager.  In this work he goes on in great detail about the difference between these ideas and ideologies, and why some are necessary for honest and open dialogue in the world, and why some are outright dangerous (and arguably the cause to the fall of every past empire and the current European catastrophe).

Homework? Seriously?  The key to every problem is education; only when informed people can have an honest discourse on a problem can it be solved….not just jimmied together with duct tape and 550 chord, but actually solved.  It is no accident that the most horrible groups have started their power grabs by killing off the intellectuals in a society (Khamer Rouge, Taliban, Nazi’s, etc), and the dumbing down of America via a constantly eroding education system is the thing that has me the most terrified today.

So, let’s start off with inefficiency: I wish I could find a slick way to chop this down to a four-letter word, but I’m not that good.  Inefficiency should be a four-letter word, but it has instead become the hallmark of government, and especially now the United States government.  I have owned businesses in the private sector, worked in the public sector, and worked in the private sector, and there is no organization out there which is more inefficient than anything related to our government.  If you want a real idea of how government-run healthcare would work, ask anyone who has had to deal with the Veterans Affairs hospitals or administration….you should get a medal for surviving that one.

So why am I bringing this up?  Taxes.  I could maybe take that down to a four letter word, but it would just be confusing.  Let’s look at a few reasons why some people, myself included, are so up in arms about the current fiscal cliff and proposed tax increases:

Firstly, who would you say is better at innovation and efficiency, the government or private sector?  Do you think it’s a coincidence that every major conservative candidate who loses to a Leftist is immediately hired on to run a large successful corporation (Mitt Romney, Meg Whitman)?  Not at all.  These private-sector companies are very smart, and are only going to take on someone who they believe can run their organization efficiently and effectively.

Meg Whitman ran against the current Governor of California, Jerry Brown in the last election.  She was a former CEO who shattered the glass ceiling at a Fortune 500 company and took them from inefficiency and hemorrhaging  money to a successful organization.  Since the election she has been hired on as a C-level officer at another major corporation, and once again under her leadership that company is a hallmark of innovation (I just saw an interview with her and the new direction she is taking that company).

Jerry Brown was a mayor of Oakland in the past, and his claim to fame was turning Oakland from a thriving metropolis to the cesspool that it is today.  Based on his ultra-liberal policies and ideologies he is now running the state of California, and doing a pretty good job of fleecing the people and sending corporations and job creators fleeing.  His idea that raising taxes without first gaining any level of efficiency  in his government has resulted in investors, corporations, high-income earners and job producers fleeing the state.

I’m not going to get into the last presidential election, but I think everyone knows that the outcome was quite similar; Romney was almost immediately brought onto the board at another major corporation, Obama is raising taxes and adamantly defiant to grow an inefficient government rather than fix it.  Enough said.

Secondly, I would like to talk a little bit about prosperity and philanthropy.  The United States of America is the largest exporter of donations to charities in the history of the world.  The Leftist media would have you think otherwise; if you did nothing but listen to or read news from certain outlets, you would think that the US is the land of Scrooge, that the top 1% is nothing but curmudgeons who hide every penny and never give.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why do you think so many immigrants come to this country every day, many under life-threatening conditions?  Is it because this is a horrible country of misers and racists who will bleed them dry and take everything they have?  No, they come because this is the land of opportunity. 

The left would have you believe that racism is still a major factor in this country, even though we have a black president, slavery and Jim Crow have been abolished for decades (even though it is still rampant in Africa, Asia and the Middle East), women can become CEO’s (see above) and every religion, nationality and group you can think of have their own TV shows, radio shows, reality shows and identity.  For more on this, please listen to the Adam Carolla podcast….it’s a topic he speaks to much better than I ever could.

Even though the media would have you believe that America is evil, Americans give more than anyone else in history.  The great thing about charities is that there are many organizations that rate them, based on their efficiency, how much of their money goes to the people you are supposedly donating too (I support USA Cares and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation because of their high marks for low administration costs).  It is the beauty of the free-market system: you can choose whichever organization you feel gives you the most ROI (return on investment), or bang-for-your-buck.

But what about taxes?  We know that the government is wildly inefficient, that greedy and corrupt politicians earmark billions every year in hapless programs that do nothing but benefit a portion of their constituency rather than the country, yet we have no choice but to have our money taken.  Worse than that, we know that as the government grows larger, the inefficiency and waste of our money grows with it.  If for every $100 that the government takes from you in extra taxes, you translate that into $1 less that you can give to charities that need it and spend it well, does your view on raising taxes change?

Thirdly, I’d like to bring up Job Creators; this was a major hot-button topic and phrase in the last presidential election, but I think they got it wrong (both sides).  One of my favorite ideas in economics is the idea that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  This is the idea that even if you’re not paying for something it isn’t free, because of all the work that went into providing that meal to you, missed opportunities with time, money, etc.

Based on that principle, I feel that every US Citizen who pays taxes is essentially a job creator.  If you look at it on a very macro level, every dollar that you spend on taxes is a dollar that could have gone into the free-market: buying lunch, buying your kid a new toy, taking a vacation.  For every dollar that you spend at Toys R Us, Carnival Cruise Lines or PF Changs, that money goes to paying a waiter, cook, restaurant owner, etc.  When taxes are raised, people lose disposable income, spend less money in the market, and we have a horrible sales season, like this Holiday sales season has been.  Weird that I could see that one but our current administration couldn’t.

Lastly, to bring it all home, I’d like to talk a little bit about the Liberal Leftist media spin.  They would have you believe that all of the things I said above are lies, but most importantly they would have you believe that the people I spoke about here don’t exist.

You see, the Leftist Liberal media are masters of spin; they would have you believe that every person in the 1% making over $1,000,000 a year was born with a silver spoon and doesn’t deserve their money.  The “fair share” argument is a picture they’ve successfully painted recently (and Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager have a few rants about as well), but they don’t give you the reality.  Sure, there is a small group of people who are born into the lap of luxury and essentially pay their way into the top schools and corporations, but that’s not the majority.

I know quite a few people who would be considered in this part of the population, but none of them were born into it.  The people I know mostly started their own businesses from scratch, either in a dorm, garage, or basement.  They spent years living on Top Ramen and sacrificed everything to see their vision through to success, and because of their perseverance and sacrifice they triumphed.

They don’t spend their days on the golf course and eating lunch from golden plates like the Left has led you to believe; they mostly work 15-18 hour days, eat lunch at meetings, stay glued to their computer, BlackBerry or iPhone all day, sleep 5-6 hours a night and work their butt off to make their business work.  CEO’s are not in the position they are in because they look good and have a great smile; they are there because they worked their butts off their entire lives, got into the right school, studied hard and got good grades, landed a great internship, and then worked their way up the corporate ladder. 

Their “fair share” should be a lot less than what the Left deems it to be, as not only have they earned their paycheck and then some, but they’ve created paychecks for many others, and if they are doing a good job are giving many people security and peace of mind that they have a good job.

Another argument is that they just hoard all of the money to themselves and pay their employees as little as possible with little to no benefits.  That premise is laughable; this is America, you are not mandated by anyone to stay at any job……if you feel that way about the company you work for and its CEO, leave.  Get on Monster or Resume builder right now and find a better company.

So, in closing, I’d just like to say that you should take everything you hear or read with a grain of salt.  Educate and inform yourself.  Listen to or read from more than one news source, so you get a much better picture of what is going on in the world.  You can be stupid, some people are just dealt those cards, but to be ignorant is a sin, and there is no excuse for it.





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2nd Amendment, Our Founding Fathers and Freedom from Tyranny

I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time now, but it took some time to find the right words and put enough time between the Sandy Hook tragedy out of respect.  I saw a post on one of my LInkedIn groups today, asking the question: “If the USA is supposed to be the land of the free, why do so many Americans still feel the need for guns?”  Here is my answer:

If you believe the USA is still the land of the free, you are strongly misguided. Most of our forefathers have great quotes along the lines of “a true patriots duty is to protect this country from its government.”  As a Mason I feel a strong tie to those great men, as many Masons were amongst our forefathers who forged and built this great land from a rough stone into the beautiful statue and work of art is has become, but the days of the USA being run by true patriots, governing this country for only a short time and based on the founding principles is long gone.

When I joined the Army, I swore an oath to uphold the constitution…..not corrupt politicians whos’ only allegiance is to whoever writes the checks for his next campaign. It is our duty as American patriots to maintain our arms to keep our government in check, especially now that the normal checks and balances have failed us.

The Second Amendment guarantees every American citizen the right to bear arms.  Depending on who is reading it, that can be interpreted as either every American citizen, or only those in a militia….but what is a militia?  Here are some definitions for you:

1. An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.

2. A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.

3. The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service

By those definitions, number 3 can apply to a wide range of American citizens who don’t fall under any organized militia, but rather all of us who are citizens over 18 years old without any significant criminal record which would disbar us from military service (number 2 could arguably be applied to the Reserves and National Guard, and with the government currently working to take private arms away from all soldiers that would be a clear violation as well).  I’d say I fall under those terms, but the cowards who perpetrated those crimes do not.

Many people in this country today have taken to blaming the NRA for these horrors which have happened recently, but most of this has missed the point greatly.  Firstly, for some odd reason our media and public have adopted the idea that everything is black-and-white, and that you have to be on one side or the other wholeheartedly.  Unfortunately, that is being represented as “if you are against these tragedies, you have to be against the NRA and responsible citizens maintaining their right to bear arms.”  Not so much.

This country was founded by great people seeking to escape freedom from tyranny.  It started as religious persecution with the Church of England, and one of the great cries that started our revolution was “no taxation without representation,” leading to the Boston Tea Party.

There is another revolution brewing in our country, as a very large portion of our populace believes, once again, that we no longer have appropriate representation within our government.  Our forefathers were men of the community, who would leave their jobs to govern for a short time, and once their time in office was up would return to their jobs and to being upstanding citizens.

We now have a political class who go to college to be politicians, and who’s only jobs throughout their lives are either aspiring to be or sitting as politicians, and once they leave their post go on to be political consultants and lobbyists; it’s no longer a job for patriots, but one based solely on greed and power.  We are no longer governed by like-minded Americans, but largely by a political class who only pretends to be “in touch” with America while they are campaigning for their next election.

My strong belief and support of the right to bear arms, as many of my friends, brothers, and tax-paying, law-abiding American citizens, is not so that people can go on rampages and kill innocents…it is the right of American patriots to keep their land protected against any threats, both foreign and domestic.  It is a belief among many that the last line of defense against a government hostile towards it’s own people is in groups of citizens who are willing to take up arms in her defense, and if that is taken away we lose that ability.

In short, the Second Amendment was built upon the framework of what forged this great land; American patriots having their arms to defend the United States of America against ANY threat, foreign or domestic.  These tragedies are the most heinous of crimes, and I strongly support finding a way to prevent them, but I do not believe that taking the right to bear arms away from patriots and citizens is the right answer.

Both of these cowards (Aurora and Sandy Hook) had clear mental illnesses, and should not, in any way, be compared to the law-abiding and upstanding patriots who bear arms for protection rather than harm.  If we take those arms away from those who would defend us when the time comes, the only people left with guns would be those who are the most dangerous with them.




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