I’m spending my morning listening to various contractors testify before Congress. Back in the day, when I worked for a tech consultancy, the technical term for what is going on in this hearing was “Not it!”
Every consultant has sat in a meeting like this, where you painfully try to duck responsibility for unknown bugs and/or the client’s bad decisions while not enraging the client by pointing out the various ways that various powerful people in the institution messed up the implementation. Having been in that position several times myself, it’s hard not to feel empathy for the folks getting grilled. Hope you got those change orders in writing, guys.
I’ve been blogging a lot over the past week or so about the risk of an insurance market "death spiral" -- where young people stay away, so the only people buying insurance are old and sick, causing the cost of insurance to rise over time and pushing ever more healthy young people out of the market.
Adrianna McIntyre says that we shouldn’t worry; there’s a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that deals with this:
Right after I moved to Washington in 2007, the Dismemberment Plan got the band back together. They did a one-off show for charity, which sold out within minutes of the tickets going on sale. So they added another show, which also sold out immediately. When they were together, the band never sold out shows like this; now that they were gone, they sold tickets like, well, rock stars. Then they went back to being broken up and having day jobs.
In 2011, the band did a little tour to support the re-release of one of its albums. I didn’t get a ticket in 2007, but by 2011, I was married to one of the band’s greatest fans. He scored himself tickets for both D.C. shows, and one for me, despite the difficulties -- the shows had again sold out, almost instantly. The venue was packed, and I regretted not having the foresight to two-fist my drinks, because once you’d gotten into the middle of the crowd, fighting your way back to the bar was hopeless. But it was a great show -- Travis Morrison is a terrific front man -- and at the time, of course, I thought it was my last chance to see the Dismemberment Plan.Read more »
My father bought me my first science-fiction novel for my eighth birthday. By the time I was 11, I fully expected to become a space colonist. Some might argue that I did, in fact, become a space cadet, but from a strictly factual standpoint, it’s fair to say that my dreams were crushed. And given that I’m a journalist married to another journalist, I’m unlikely ever to be able to take a ride on Virgin Galactic’s space coaster at $250,000 a pop.
But as with so many luxury items, it looks as if the market is innovating a cheaper version:Read more »
With Nov. 1 storming toward us and the health insurance exchanges still not working, we face the daunting possibility that people may not be able to sign up for January, or maybe even for 2014. The possibility of a total breakdown -- the dreaded insurance death spiral -- is heading straight for us. The “wait and see if they can’t get it together” option no longer seems viable; we have to acknowledge that these problems are much more than little glitches, and figure out what to do about them.
Most of what seems to be on the table ranges from not helpful to actively unhelpful. Here are seven popular “solutions” that don’t solve anything and may make things worse.Read more »
A rent-controlled lease in the city of New York is a fascinating sort of product from an economic standpoint: It is both property and not property. You can’t sell your lease to a handsome stranger who offers to buy it. On the other hand, you often can bequeath it to a child or other relative who lives with you. No one can remove you as long as you pay the statutory rent, but if you leave it for more than a couple of years, it reverts to your landlord. It’s a little bit mind-bending.
Well, prepare to have your mind bent even further, because this tension forms the center of a fascinating legal case. Mary Veronica Santiago, a rent-stabilized tenant, has declared bankruptcy. And the courts are considering whether her lease is a financial asset that can be sold off to pay her debts.
I’ve been seeing a few things floating around the blogosphere about Obamacare that aren’t true. They’re not really conservative or liberal talking points; they’re just misconceptions that people may have about how the health-care law works. So it seems worth pointing them out, especially because relying on some of these “facts” could get you into big trouble:
You have until March 31 to buy health insurance. This is technically true: Open enrollment ends on March 31. So you can buy health insurance up until then. But you have to buy insurance well before that if you want to avoid paying the mandate's penalty. Basically, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says that in order to avoid paying the fine for being uninsured, you have to be insured by the end of March. But insurance policies begin on the first day of the month, which means that you need to buy insurance by February. And because it takes a couple of weeks to process a policy, in practice, you need to purchase by Feb. 15. If you buy insurance after that, you will still be insured -- but you will also need to pay a penalty. Which brings me to my second untrue “fact”:
There’s a legend that after Hernan Cortes and his crew landed on the shores of the New World, Cortes ordered that their boats be burned. The only way they would be able to get back to Spain would be to conquer the land, giving them the resources to build new boats. With necessity at their backs, his band of adventurers managed to conquer all of Mexico.
It’s not clear if this story is actually true, but it’s nonetheless beloved by motivational speakers. The last two weeks of political paralysis have been an excellent illustration of why you shouldn’t model your negotiation strategy on a guy who’s mostly famous for slaughtering strangers.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot about fast-food workers and public assistance, after a study from the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center came out arguing that these workers get billions in public benefits. Several of my readers have hinted that I, as a welfare-hating libertarian type, should be outraged at all this free-riding.
I don’t think this argument works for a bunch of reasons. We’re about to see a lot more fast-food workers on public benefits, because of the Affordable Care Act. (Assuming it doesn’t implode, of course.) Do companies really have a moral obligation to raise wages every time the public passes a new entitlement? That doesn’t seem as if it can possibly be right. Does Obamacare give you a moral obligation to pay your lawn guy more? Do you think it might be hard to pass new public programs if it did?Read more »