theloquaciousliberal

Person #1588: 3 Posts

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  1. MassHealth Not GIC is Far Biggest Cost (1 Reply)

    Your comment here is founded on a fundamental misunderstanding about the reality of health care costs for government and employer:

    The cost of healthcare in the state budget revolves around employee benefits. The expense comes in providing health benefits to state employees.

    This “fact” is not at all true. Health benefits for state employees is about a $1.3 billion annual cost. Real money, sure, but dwarfed by the $14 billion spent on Medicaid annually. For details, you know facts and all, see here: http://www.massbudget.org/browser/subcat.php?id=State+Employee+Health+Insurance

    Meanwhile, Medicare spends about $15 billion a year while the commercially insured spend about $18 billion a year on medical costs alone while siphoning off $1.8 billion for non-medical costs of private health insurance (administration and other “profit”). See:
    http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2014/09/mass-health-costs-first-year

    I’d submit that when you take a real look at the health care system in Massachusetts, single payer seems like a fair better solution than when you narrow the question to what to do about state employees.

  2. "Fingerprint Trigger Locks" (1 Reply)

    Yes, on his website and in many other places, Tolan has used the phrase “smart gun technology” to describe what he seeks to mandate in new guns sold.

    And I get that this is somewhat of a vague term that may include radio-emitting technology that’s not accurately described as only a trigger lock.

    BUT, Toman’s website (and Tolman himself) frequently defines “smart gun” technology as follows:

    This technology, which includes fingerprint trigger locks, prevents anyone other than a gun’s owners from pulling the trigger.(emphasis added)

    Then, in this very ad, Tolman wisely avoids the term “smart gun” altogether and says simply he will “require fingerprint trigger locks on new guns sold.”

    Given these clarifications, do you still think Tolman is actually proposing to mandate new guns include anything other than a biometric or “personalized” trigger lock?

  3. Blackjack is a Simple Game (1 Reply)

    A great player (one who has memorized the odds of any particular hand beating any particular dealer’s up card) has literally no decisions to make. Depending on the dealer’s up card and the total count of the player’s cards, a great player can make the “correct” decision (the decision that gives them the best odds of winning) on whether to hit, stay, double or split under any circumstance.

    Meanwhile, the dealer makes absolutely no decisions whatsoever. They may not double and may not split. They hit until their cards total 16 or less (always hitting 16s) and stay if and when their cards total 17 or more. Again, the dealer is a robot, paying the player when they their either go over 21 or stick on 17-21 and beat the players hand.

    All that said, there are two relatively simply ways to change the odds for Blackjack and to (as proposed) increase the house edge to match the house edge on slot machines:

    (1) As kirth points out, one way to increase the “house edge” (to reduce the average amount a player wins) is simply reducing the amount that the casino pays the player for getting dealt a “blackjack” (an Ace and a Ten or face card totaling 21) in their first two cards. This doesn’t really “change the odds of winning” (which is probably why you found it confusing) but it does decrease the average amount that a player will win. Since the odds of getting dealt a blackjack are about 5%, cutting the amount paid out upon getting a blackjack in half (say from 2-1 to 3-2) increases the “house edge” by about 2.5%. With the average game playing roughly 80 hands and hour, even small changes in the amount paid out for blackjack can have a big effect over time.

    2) The second and most common way that casinos increase their “house edge” is by limiting the options for the player by changing the basic rules of the game. There are 6,912 different types of commonly played blackjack each with subtle combinations of different rules! The “house edge” can be increased not allowing players to double their bet after a split or with a hand other than a 10 or 11, not allowing players to split Aces or to re-split already split hands, etc. These are all very subtle changes (each changing the “house edge” by less than 1%) but they certainly *do* effect the odds that a player will win or lose money over time.

    This is probably more than someone who mistakenly thinks blackjack is “literally the luck of the draw” wants to know. But hopefully this helps you understand that you certainly can and the casinos certainly do “artificially change blackjack odds”.

  4. BS (1 Reply)

    In Reading, certainly not an enclave of super liberal ideology, the undecideds take first place at about 44%, next comes support for Berwick(they’ll actually vote for him) by 37%, Coakley 13%, and last Grossman at 6%.

    Yeah, right. How about an actual cite for these (I assume) completely made up numbers? What a bunch of nonsense.

    Unions have not endorsed anyone and will not be out campaigning for one candidate or another.

    This is also ridiculous. Of course “the unions” have endorsed candidates in the Gubernatorial primary. They will spend millions of dollars in direct mail, advertising and for their ground operations in the next two weeks. Mostly for Coakley (who’s been endorsed by 1199SEIU, AFSCME, and many other power players in the state’s labor movement).

  5. Not New (0 Replies)

    This theory (that lead levels were connected to crime rates) has been around for a good while now. At least since 2007: http://freakonomics.com/2007/07/09/lead-and-crime/

    It fails to gain traction for the very reasons alluded to in the article you cite. The solutions to reducing lead poisoning (an ongoing and important effort across the country but especially for those living in older housing stock) are increased environmental regulations and assistance for poor people. In contrast, the most vocal law & order folks prefer “solutions” that don’t affect them so directly or cost as much. Imprisonment and more religion in public spheres.

  6. Why Not? (0 Replies)

    Are you against offering brewery tours? The various “Brew Runs” held across the state every year? Wine related tourism? (e.g.: http://www.massvacation.com/blog/2012/08/the-massachusetts-wine-cheese-trail-expands/ )

  7. Oh, Boy (0 Replies)

    Two short paragraphs and yet loaded with pure nonsense.

    Marijuana is decidedly *not* a harmful drug. You’ve brought up virtually no “real evidence” here aside from a handful of people getting sick from ingesting too much candy, cookies or chocolate. Decades of research has proven that marijuana is far *less* harmful than alcohol, cigarettes or 16 ounce sodas.

    But where you really get my goat is with this ridiculousness:

    I want to understand why adding MORE options for people to hurt themselves for revenue is good because the other two aren’t going away. Explain why you want to add more.

    In no way does legalizing marijuana “add more options for people to hurt themselves.” Marijuana is already an option for the estimated 400,000 + individuals who smoke it at least once a month in Massachusetts. Legalization is decidedly *not* adding a new “option” for most people.

    What it does do is end the Prohibition of an already widely-used drug that has been shown to have very few harmful effects. Ending the prohibition of marijuana will almost undoubtedly *reduce* harm to society by severely undercutting the criminal marijuana black market and increasing regulation. Reducing crime, saving law enforcement and judicial resources, and (a nice side benefit) increasing revenue.

    This is a *legal* and public policy debate about what should be considered a state crime. And whether the downsides of Prohibition are at all worth criminalizing the re-sale of a plant.

  8. Fiar Labor Hotline (1 Reply)

    The Fair Labor Division of the AG’s office does already have a permanent hotline that is available to everyone. The number is (617) 727-3465.

    This number can and should be used by anyone with complaints related to violations of state law related to the payment of wages, minimum wage laws, overtime, prevailing wage, pay stub and record keeping, tip pooling, independent contractor, and retaliation laws.

    For more info and to file an official complaint either online or through the mails, see: http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-business-in-massachusetts/labor-laws-and-public-construction/file-a-wage-complaint.html

  9. True And (0 Replies)

    not all gambling is created equal

    And the Lottery is the one of the worst kind of gambling there is.

    Promoted by the state (and, therefore, by all of us as taxpayers), the state lottery is rigged much more than any casino game. Last fiscal year, people bet $4.86 billion on the Massachusetts lottery. The lottery paid back just $3.51 billion of that in prizes (about 72%). It made net profits of $971 billion (returned to cites and towns) and the remaining 8% was paid out in administrative costs plus commissions/bonus to retail stores.

    That house edge for the lottery (again, about 20%-28% depending how you count it) is unconscionably high. The house edge in Roulette is 5.2%, about 2% in Craps, less than 1% in Blackjack, and anything from 2%-12% on slot machines.

    The state lottery is a reverse ATM machine that takes your money much, much faster than the casinos.

    Personally, I wouldn’t make either casinos or the lottery illegal. Prohibition does not work. But spending millions of taxpayer dollars a year to advertise the “opportunity” to play the lottery and to encourage residents to “entertain” themselves by playing games with a 25% house edges is absolutely, unequivocally immoral in my book.

  10. Double Speak (0 Replies)

    Yes, this detailed explanation of the statement came out before the esteemed Dr. Berwick commented. But much of the rest of what you say here is simply “doubleman-speak”:

    Coakley did nothing to reduce Partners’ negative impact on health care costs.

    That’s simple not true, as you acknowledge in your next confusing sentence and despite your misleading use of terms like “temporarily” and “slow the growth”. Semantics aside, there’s no substantive difference between “reducing” Partners’ impact on health care costs and “slowing the growth of that negative impact.” Among other things, the settlement reduces the negotiating power of Partners, limits its ability to acquire physicians, and places a hard cap on Partners’ cost growth (tying it to inflation). Yes, these provisions are not for all eternity but generally are in place from 6.5-10 years each and they will have a real impact on health care costs. And for much longer than “temporary” suggests.

    This deal just ensures that Partners’ out of control prices are the norm

    To the contrary, maintaining the status quo would result from either allowing (without restrictions) or absolutely preventing (through a lawsuit) Partners’ acquisition of South Shore Hospital. This settlement seeks a wise middle ground that leverages Partners’ desire to acquire South Shore Hospital to get serious and very real concessions from Partners. Operational and legal reforms that actually will control Partners’ cost growth and change the “norm”.

    We need a governor who will take the lead on reversing rapid health care cost increases, not just try to slow them.

    There are no candidates for Governor or serious policymakers of any kind who believe that we can actually “reverse” health care cost increases. Goods and services cost more over time because of inflation if for no other reason. Health care cost grow faster than inflation because utilization also increases with technological innovation and because Partners has the negotiating power to increase their prices rapidly. The best we can do is slow cost growth (“cost containment”). Single payer (which I strongly support, for the record) doesn’t promise to decrease health care costs and it shouldn’t.

    It’s just that the circumstances are that Martha Coakley is running for governor and battling with one of the biggest entities in the state would not help her campaign.

    I just don’t by this at all. Politically, taking on Partners is a clear winner. The insurance companies, most other hospitals, the health care labor unions and many others are eager to battle with Partners. Look at the Questionaires from the nurses union and SEIU (available on Maura Healey’s website, for one). The MNA asks pressing questions about “the negative impact of health care consolidation”, “anticompetitive behavior among large health care systems”. SEIU does too, noting that “rapid
    growth in health care costs, significant market consolidation and increasing price disparities have all had a direct and negative impact on communities, consumers, and workers.”

    I’d certainly like to think that the endorsement of these powerful unions (and many others) that Coakley has gained (at least in part because of her leadership in taking on Partners) will help her campaign. To me, it’s simply political gamesmanship to suggest that Coakley would rather coddle Partners than gain the support of many other powerful political interests (not to mention the general public) who benefit from her ongoing and extensive efforts to limit Partners’ negative impact on health care costs.

  11. Partners' Deal Defense (1 Reply)

    The AG’s office has laid out a detailed argument about why they think the Partners deal was the best possible settlement under the circumstances:
    http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2014/2014-06-24-partners-settlement.html

    In my view, those who legitimately question (as opposed to just seek to score easy political points) the AG’s commitment to reducing Partners’ negative impact on health care costs can’t been paying attention to the leading role AG Coakley has taken in this area for many years.

  12. They May Have Heard of Her? (0 Replies)

    This poll only shows that 1 out of 11 refused to say whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion. Based on the question, those were supposed to be people who have “never heard of” Hillary.

    But, the historical record shows that 9% is indeed a relatively high and confusing number. The last Gallup poll (from early June) showed Hillary at 54%-43% with only 3% offering no opinion!
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/173591/favorability-potential-presidential-candidates.aspxs_140717%20.pdf

    I’m not sure why the number is so much higher a month later (2-5% seems like the usual number going back many years). Ironically, it seems like that as she gets back in to the public eye about twice as many respondents prefer to offer “no opinion” and/or claim they “never heard of” Hillary Clinton?

    You have any insights in to this phenomenon?

  13. Nice Try (0 Replies)

    Berwick is “the one consistently leading and changing the debate–about this issue”

    Yeah, right. “A lot of people” apparently means 111 people now (the current number of signatories to Berwick’s groundbreaking decision)? I’d suggest that’s actually an absurdly low number of “followers” for any leader to garner for an online petition.

    Aside from Berwick and Grossman, there have been dozens of high-profile critics of the AG’s proposed consent agreement in this case. Including numerous hospital CEOs, community organizations, the policy leaders on the Health Policy Commission board, and numerous media outlets.

    Given that reality, for either Berwick or Grossman (or their supporters on their behalf) to take credit for the AG’s decision to ask the judge to postpone the decision in this case is hubris at best.

  14. Exactly My Point (1 Reply)

    She’s been in the public eye for 23 years yet only about 40% of the electorate doesn’t like her! And almost everyone knows enough about her to have an opinion. Very little is likely to move that number in a meaningful way.

    Everyone else – including Biden – has more room to move (up or down!). And everyone else starts with “alarming” negative ratings that math or are lower than Hillary’s. History shows that it’s very rare for a candidate to greatly improve their favorability rating as name recognition increases. Obama got re-elected easily in 2012 with 40%-45% negative favorability ratings.

  15. You're Not Making Sense (1 Reply)

    This whole debate started when you suggested that Hilary’s negatives are “alarmingly high.” I then pointed out that (despite the “common knowledge” that Hillary is widely hated) her 40% negative rating is actually lower than almost all the other candidates. You said, yeah but favorability will change as name recognition increases. I replied that it seems likely to me that favorability will stay about the same (on average!) since name recognition increases based on both positive and negative publicity. To which you replied, Rand Paul’s favorability is likely to get even worse than the current 42% as he becomes better known.

    So…. what’s your point about Hillary’s “alarmingly high” negatives again?

  16. What Nonsense (2 Replies)

    They might move in synch, but I think it’s wiser to assume that they will change.

    Of course, events will boost name recognition. But those events will be both positive and negative. For example, I’m sure Rand Paul will become more well known as he comments on foreign policy (likely a net positive) but also as his plans to privatize (destroy) Social Security and Medicare become more widely known (likely a net negative). The same is true for all the candidates (except Hillary who has a ridiculous 91% true name recognition).

    It’s just silly to suggest that it is “wiser to assume that they will change”, especially when what you really mean here is “We should assume that, as a candidate gets better known, they will have relatively fewer people that view them negatively.”

    I’d suggest it’s actually “wiser” to assume that the candidate’s favorability ratings will stay about the same (since nobody really knows whether a particular candidate’s increased name recognition will come from positive or negative publicity).

  17. Says Who? (1 Reply)

    That will not be the case.

    I am assuming that the ratios will stay the same as name recognition grows. Why wouldn’t they?

  18. Hillary's Negatives (1 Reply)

    Are far from “alarmingly high” but rather encouragingly low. And she benefits from huge name recognition too.

    Doing the math, Hillary has a 40% negative rating (36%/91%).

    By this calculation, Warren has a 45% negative rating with the other three Democrats at about 50%. The top Republicans are about in that range too with Huckabee at 39%, Paul at 42%, Rubio at 41% and Perry at 45%. Bush and Christie are worse off than Hillary too.