Friday, July 28, 2017

Weekend Reading: The In the Whirlwind Edition

My week involved an unusual amount of chauffeuring my children to activities, for reasons I maintain are good. Still, it made this week feel like I was caught in a whirlwind. I had thought I might write about that last night, but watching the healthcare vote took precedence. I'm glad I watched, even though it obviously didn't matter that I did. It was nice to go to bed and not have a part of my mind trying to decide what I should do if the ACA is repealed. Keep on as if nothing changed? Look for a full time job to provide some insurance redundancy? Just sell the house and move to New Zealand already?

Of course, the repeal effort isn't really dead. There are already rumors that they might try again. But for one night, I was able to forget that and just be happy that they failed to repeal it this time.

So, what's next? In a more normal political environment, the Republicans might perhaps try talking to the Democrats and work out a bipartisan plan to fix the problems with the ACA. There are some ideas out there for this approach, including one put forward by a group of congresspeople that includes my representative.

I don't actually expect any bipartisan efforts unless there is a leadership challenge in one or both houses of congress, though. Sadly, what will probably happen is that the administration will intensify its actions to sabotage the ACA, hoping that this somehow softens the American people up for their poorly thought out "reforms." 

There has been some really good commentary about what went wrong for the Republicans. Here are two pieces I found particularly useful:
I am no expert, but I think the Republican party is too much controlled by its donors right now, to the point that it was willing to ignore a pretty clear message from its voters on this bill. Will Republican voters punish them for this in 2018? I do not know. However, if they do not, I think the rot will intensify and I really do worry that our political system may not survive this period. We might come out with something better afterwards... but the path to that is unlikely to be pleasant. 

Needless to say, I really hope that Republican voters hold their elected representatives accountable for this recent behavior. Failing that, I hope we can get enough Democrat voters to the polls to at least take back the House. Failing that... I don't know.

Even scarier: Trump's speech on Long Island today. Anyone continuing to support Trump has to reckon with what his words are doing here. This sort of rhetoric does not lead anywhere good.

I think the plight of the Facebook cafeteria workers is a failure of local government to address housing issues as much as it is a Facebook failure... but if Zuckerberg really is considering a run for President, he'd better start thinking about how he'll answer questions about this problem.

Here's a cool story:

You really need to watch this:

Tee hee:

But bunnies are still the cutest:

Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Bunnies and capybaras are adorable.

    On a more serious note, I feel for the family living in a garage. They are fortunate that they have family who took them in. But, there is something seriously wrong about the story as the family tells it.

    For instance, they say that their income is to high for help under ACA. That is patently false. Their income is too high for Medi-Cal/Medicaid. But, they get a ~90% subsidy on Kaiser health insurance for their family, bringing their monthly premiums to just over $100/month. I typed the Menlo Park zip code and their combined hourly income*2000 hr/yr = $74,000/yr into the covered CA website.

    They live with family. I don't know if they pay rent, but it has to be much smaller than apt rent. Where is their $ going if not for housing or health insurance? It's a mystery.

    They don't say anything about childcare costs. Do they use family for free care or do they pay? Do they pay family a somewhat lower fee? They have THREE children. I stopped after 1 child for myriad reasons, including the high cost of day care which was not exploitive to the women providing care and provided a good environment for my child.

    CA has a progressive tax system. With such a large family and modest income, they likely pay little state income tax. Yet, they are eligible for covered CA health insurance, childcare vouchers to use at daycare centers that participate in the program. SV is very difficult, but they should get on the waitlist for low and moderate income family housing.

    I know that the cutoff for moderate income housing in that area was $96,000 for a single person. As a family with minor children at home, they would have very high priority for the limited # of units. The size of the units is set by family size but the rent is set by the family income. My mom had to wait 6 mo for her unit and she has no minor children to gain priority. Why has this family been in a garage for years?

    Oh, if their children want to go to college, the can go to community college in CA for $20/unit (low income rate), much of it funded by Pell grants. Then they can transfer to a UC and won't have to pay a dime (if their income stays this low.)

    Menlo Park has good public schools with after school care. They might even qualify for reduced rates. Our local PS in LA has similar demographics to MP and many families in our school and after school program got subsidies. In fact, I remember, even a decade ago, a family of 4 w/ family income of $60,000 still got a subsidy that covered health care for the children only.

    CA subsidizes stingy businesses that then whine about the high cost of doing business. The tax payers like you and me are paying for a fraying and strained safety net. But this article is outrageously irresponsible. The Guardian should have checked the facts. A few minutes at the covered CA website would have told them that this family is seriously deluded.

    CA can't help everyone, but does try to help the neediest.

  2. The thing to remember about ACA subsidies is they are *only* available if you do not qualify for Medicaid or what ACA defines as affordable employer coverage. Anyone can buy a full price plan on the exchanges, but if your employer gives you an option of spending 10% of your income on a plan that may have a huge deductible, they have essentially decided you should not have healthcare.
    Also, our safety net system leaves many more kids in poverty than elderly. Assuming the wait time your Mom had is slower than the wait time for an affordable unit in their current school system is wrong.

    I doubt their budget is my idea of frugal, but the idea a family of 3 has a tough time making it all work on a max of 72k (we have no guarantee they can get as many hours as they need) in Menlo Park isn't bananas.

    1. That should have been a family "with 3 kids".

  3. This comment thread makes me wonder how many kids we as a society should enable people to have.

    I suppose I'm coming at this from a place of defensiveness. Among my peers (highly educated 30-somethings living in an expensive, economically vibrant coastal area) there is definitely a popular sentiment that it is irresponsible to have kids because the planet is overpopulated and more people cause more environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions. But there is also a sentiment that we privileged rich people should pay for social services because it's the right thing to do (which I agree with). So these messages, to me, sound like "you should pay taxes to enable other people, particularly low income people, to comfortably raise as many kids as they want, but you yourself should not have as many kids as you want even if you can afford them".

    1. I can only speak for myself, but I think people should have as many kids as they want, regardless of income. I think the people who have lots of kids balance out the people who have no kids and it is all fine. I am happy to pay enough in taxes so no kid goes hungry and all kids have access to good public schools. And I also think birth control should be free for everyone, so that people only have as many kids as they actually want. I have very little patience with any moralizing over other people's reproductive choices, either towards having more kids or away from having kids at all. But that's just me.


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