Sunday, January 15, 2017

Of interest 1/15/2017, fake news and otherwise

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Allen Johnson and Doug Clark lobbying elected officials to purchase the News and Record site

..."Developers have eyed the News & Record’s land for years as prime downtown real estate. City leaders already are mulling a possible offer for the site. “We can’t let this opportunity pass us by,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan told the News & Record Wednesday.

...the site’s potential is unmistakable. Downtown has long needed a major development to spark growth to the east of Elm and Davie streets.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time a News & Record site paved the way for center-city growth.

...With a number of hotel projects and a new performing arts center in the works, who knows what the future holds?"...
Expect a City Council election year love fest between the News and Record and those lobbying to buy the newspaper property

Greensboro's Mayor Vaughan and Tony Wilkins just cost City taxpayers a lot of money

Greensboro loses more jobs at the News and Record; Compound for sale

It's been about a month since the News and Record hasn't reported Say Yes Guilford has less than $11 million, and charter schools have to pay 100%

Once again, Greensboro's Rhino Times inflates readership estimates to mislead advertisers

Regressive Taxes by City Council; "Greensboro increased its vehicle tax from $10 to the maximum allowed"

"Today's young adults with debt and a degree earn the same as workers with no degree in 1989"

Stuff 1/14/2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Expect a City Council election year love fest between the News and Record and those lobbying to buy the newspaper property

The News and Record puts its downtown Greensboro property up for sale at the beginning of a Greensboro City Council election year, during which the paper's Editorial Board (Allen Johnson and Doug Clark) endorses Council candidates and the paper's news reporters write up, or don't, stories about those running.

Meanwhile, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilman Tony Wilkins, looking to cash in on some good will from Warren Buffett's property for sale, not only run up the perceived value of the property they want taxpayers to finance, but suddenly try to get in good with those who are going to be covering the election and the redistricting court case.

Meanwhile, the big campaign contributors who don't want the property to be developed, as it would crowd out and compete with theirs, like the idea of the City buying the property at a high price to keep it off the market, as 'we' will surely pay far more than it's worth in exchange for some nice headlines leading into the election, which will be good for four years instead of two.

The parasites are out in force on this one.  

North Carolina's Richard Burr and Thom Tillis voted to keep US prescription drug prices high for their campaign contributors

Statement of Purpose: To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada.

13 Democrats vote against Sanders amendment to lower prescription drug prices

“The power and wealth of the pharmaceutical industry
and their 1,300 lobbyists and unlimited sums of money
have bought the United States congress.

Today, Mr. Trump, a guy I don’t quote very often,
he said that pharma gets away with murder, that’s what Trump said, and he’s right.”

Bernie Sanders

...a number of Republicans broke rank and voted for the amendment including Ted Cruz (TX), John McCain (AZ) and Rand Paul (KY)

...Between 2010 and 2016, a handful of the Democratic senators who voted “nay” were amongst the top Senate recipients funded by pharmaceutical companies: Sen. Booker received $267,338; Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) received $254,649; Robert Casey (D-PA) received $250,730; Michael Bennet (D-CO) received $222,000

Cory Booker and 12 Other Dems Just Stopped Bernie Sanders’ Amendment to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

You'll never guess who gives them money.

This is the full list of Democrats who voted no...

Michael Bennet (D-CO) – 2022
Cory Booker (D-NJ) – 2020
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – 2018
Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) – 2018
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) – 2018
Chris Coons (D-DE) – 2020
Joe Donnelly (D-IN) – 2018
Martin Heinrich (D-NM) – 2018
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) – 2018
Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – 2018
Patty Murray (D-WA) – 2022
Jon Tester (D-MT) – 2018
Mark Warner (D-VA) – 2020

...Between 2013 and 2016, Cory Booker received $442,678 from the pharmaceuticals industry; Patty Murray received $670,944; Robert Casey received $577,079; Michael Bennett received $652,417.

$80 Billion Buyout

“PhRMA has worked to insulate the industry from bidding on drug prices from government programs. The group pledged $80 billion to help fund Obamacare in 2009 in exchange for protection from drug-price negotiation that Democrats wanted to include in the Affordable Care Act.”

That $80 billion buyout cost consumers how many hundreds of billions in prescription costs?

And paying the competition to not produce generics sounds like a genuine antitrust violation that deserves to be prosecuted.

Trump has a chance from the get-go to do something right. Let’s see if he follows through.

America is getting Ripped Off on Healthcare

"...the cost of the US health care system is roughly twice that in GDP terms of that of other advanced economies, yet delivers worse results.

Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives...

the U.S. stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance—the U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care in 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked first overall.

...The causes include:

A pay-for-piecework system that rewards doctors for over-treatment. These incentives are reinforced by encouraging patients to expect too much of doctors and demand surgeries and medications rather than accept that they may have to live with limitations or a slow recovery...

Similarly, I’ve been appalled when I visit doctors and mention what I consider to be a minor complaint that they almost universally regard it as a request for meds and are creepily eager to provide them.

And ads like this only encourage this sort of thing...

Drug company rent extraction. The US funds a huge amount of basic R&D and demands way too little. Big Pharma has succeeded in creating an intellectual property regime that makes it more attractive to milk existing patents and cheat on drug marketing than discover new drugs. Over 85% of the so-called new drug applications for the last 15 years have been for extensions of patents on existing drugs based on minor reformulations. The industry also spends more on marketing than R&D, and you can be sure that the beancounters allocate as much overhead as possible to R&D. Yet they’ve managed to con much of the public and complicit legislators that they need fat profits to “innovate” when they instead go to CEO and executive bonuses

Even worse, drug company marketing abuses kill people on a large scale basis. Vioxx and Oxycontin are poster children.

Needless insurance company costs and burdening of doctors with unnecessary admin work. One of the big reasons for the shortage of primary care physicians is the every-rising hassle of dealing with insurance companies. My impression is most doctors spend a day a week fighting to get paid, on top of having to pay staff to deal with paperwork...

...anyone who is sick should avoid a hospital stay unless there is no other choice.

...Obama made his health care “reform” all about institutionalizing the medical industrial complex looting. 

The bill was written by health care industry lobbyists.

Drug company and insurer stocks both rose when it was passed. 

Even though insurers are whinging on how they are having a hard time making enough money on Obamacare exchange plans (and this serves as their excuse for dropping them and/or raising premiums), the press seldom mentions that they made out handsomely on Medicaid expansion. And let us not forget that Obamacare also barred drug reimportation from Canada.

So having chosen to misuse a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have a go at the fundamental problems of a clearly broken health care system, Obama, as he did with the banks, sided with powerful incumbents at the expense of ordinary Americans. Some people may perceive that they have been helped, but I wonder how many have road tested their coverage via suffering a serious mishap. As readers know too well (and many have told us), if you are hit by a bus and get taken to an emergency room not in your network, the costs are all on your dime. Even if you schedule an operation in network, it is impossible to prevent the hospital from gaming the system and scheduling practitioners who are not in network as part of the team so as to run up a bigger tab (lawyers have told us you can contest the bill successfully if you’ve demanded that they schedule only in-network professionals and they agree, but why should people who are having to deal with the stress of recovery from a major procedure be put through fights like that?). As we’ve also discussed, many insurers are effectively excluding pre-existing conditions via narrow networks that do not include specialists that can treat them.

...1% of patients account for 21% of health care costs, far worse than the usual 80/20 rule, it conflates that with the pre-existing conditions problem, when end-of-life care is a big ticket item included in those figures.

Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton stated clearly what is wrong. The American health care system “seems optimally designed for rent seeking and very poorly designed to improve people’s health.” 

And nothing is going to get better until we tackle that problem head on.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Once again, Greensboro's Rhino Times inflates readership estimates to mislead advertisers
The Rhino prints 5,000 papers per week. which comes out to 50,000 readers?

If every copy is read, 10 people read each copy?

How many papers aren't read?

Same lie, different year.
John Hammer admits printing 5,000 Rhino Times per week =

The City of Greensboro blowing off a legitimate taxpayer inquiry concerning the Rhino Times circulation numbers and links

Has anyone seen the Rhino Times' circulation audit? About 16% of the Rhino's ads are taxpayer funded.

Roy Carroll's Rhino Times questionable circulation subsidized by Greensboro's taxpayers

How can the Rhino claim to have 70,000 weekly readers if Roy is only distributing about 17,500 issues per week, many of which don't get read?

City of Greensboro Rhino Times Circulation Audit Information Request

Rhino Times Greensboro Coliseum Advertising

Rhino Times; N.C. Gen. Stat § 75-1.1: Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices Under North Carolina Law

From an EZ Greensboro Fan on the Rhino Times Circulation/Reader Inflation Issue

Communications between Roy Carroll's Rhino's John Hammer and the City of Greensboro's Donnie Turlington on the Rhino's Circulation numbers

The City of Greensboro's response to the Rhino Times Circulation Audit Mystery

Greensboro's Mayor Vaughan and Tony Wilkins just cost City taxpayers a lot of money

"The bad news is that the News & Record this year is going to close down its press on East Market Street and start printing Greensboro's only daily newspaper at the Winston-Salem Journal.

Both papers are owned by a division of Warren Buffett's company Berkshire-Hathaway... It also means a loss of jobs...

...Having a tract of more than 6 acres to develop in downtown Greensboro might be a plus, except the City Council has already expressed interest in buying it.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan reportedly talked with the folks at the News & Record about buying the land today.

Common sense says that if you tell a property owner you want to buy his land before it's on the market, the price goes up.  The city reportedly would buy the property because it is interested in controlling the development.

...The City of Greensboro has a long history of buying property high and selling low.  It would seem that any developer who was interested in the property would let the city buy it, knowing that the property could then be bought for less, because the city is not in the property development business and wants to support downtown development.

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to allow the property to go on the market and see what kind of interest there is in it?  If a developer wants to purchase the property and develop it, wouldn't it be better for taxpayers for the city to stay out of the process?  If the property goes on the market and there is no interest from the private sector, the city should be able to buy it for less, not more, than the asking price.  Of course, if no developer is interested, maybe it is because what looks good on a map may not be that good in reality.

City Councilmember Tony Wilkins sent an email this afternoon to City Manager Jim Westmoreland asking, "Do we have any money available from the recent bonds that passed in November that might be available if the six acres of the News & Record property would become available?   Does this warrant a discussion among staff and councilmembers?"

Wilkins copied the rest of the City Council on his email to Westmoreland and received an answer a few minutes later from Vaughan: "Conversations started early this morning.  I am reaching out to the N&R this afternoon."...

The voice of reason on all of this is City Councilmember Mike Barber, who said, "It's a great property but this shouldn't be a public discussion.  More importantly, we should allow the private sector to buy it and keep it on the tax roles.  We should not be competing with the private sector for prime property."

Barber added, "It's a closed session matter."

...So the cat is out of the bag.  The property is most likely going to become available and the city wants to snatch it up before some developer using their own money could buy it and develop it. 

Dumb Asses

It's interesting, but when the City Council was pushing the bond proposal last fall, no mention was made of sending millions of dollars of bond money to Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, but it appears that is what it intends to do."