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Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress
The idea that abandoning our national affordable care system and turning over health systems policy to the states will resolve the fiscal crisis in our nation is absurd. Simple demographics make it a bad idea.

With the exception of age-related maladies such as senile dementia and a few others, illness strikes in ways that are best understood as random. Almost no state has a population whose age distribution, ethnic mix, income, education, etc., closely mirror the national equivalents. Thus it is entirely predictable that the distribution of illness in some states will overload specific forms of care while in states with younger, healthier populations, medical services will abound and may be surplus or squandered.

Consider two hypothetical states A and B. A is in the rust belt, and its population is relatively old due to the decline of traditional industry and economy and consequent out-migration of young people, who take their earning power and their children (AKA future earners) with them. B is experiencing rapid in-migration its modern economy is creating new wealth and infrastructure that will continue to expand for decades.

A will likely be unable to provide adequate services to its population based on some national average block grants; it will be unable to pay for home care or even common services. It will be forced to raise the share of costs that must be borne by the individual, leading to increasing poverty. Parents will be obliged to pause before seeking care for their children’s injuries or minor illnesses, leading to long-term health consequences that will further unbalance the system. Certain high-cost medical procedures and specialties will become unavailable. Although it is purported that “choice and options” will increase, the real choice will be between medical care and other essentials, with the only option being relocation. Yet because the majority of A’s citizens’ wealth is tied up in their homes and their income is tied to declining local industry for which they were trained long ago, relocation is not a viable option.

B’s citizens, in contrast, will never have had it so good, at least for a while. Their economic and demographic advantages will mean that no one will have to pause before seeking care. Cosmetic surgery and other non-essential specialties will be growth industries; noses and breasts will be reshaped and augmented in every village and town. Medical specialties and procedures now unavailable in A will be a net revenue producer for B, leading to further outflow of A’s wealth and thence to further decline it A’s ability to finance health care. Medical training will continue to migrate to large, rich states, while small, poor states struggle to buy aspirin and adhesive bandages.

These effects will also operate at the local level. Poor counties will get poorer; rich ones will get richer; this will be most apparent in large states like California, Texas and Florida at one end and in Michigan, Mississippi and the Great Plains at the other.

Today we’ve learned that the “(R)eject and (R)egress” effort in Congress has failed again. Good news, but have no doubt they’ll be baa-ack one day soon. Beware!

Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress © 26 Sep 2017
Minnesota Reduces Income Inequality, Expands Economy
Huffington Post has summarized some striking successes by the recent state government in Minnesota (link). Abandoning the "trickle down" economics of former Gov. Pawlenty, the state raised income taxes on wealthy households and increased minimum wages to a level comparable to that in Washington. The result has been a reversal of the state's economic fortune from stagnant to expansive.

The reason for this success and for the failure of tinkle-down is a fairly well understood principle of complex systems called feedback. Newton's observation that a process once in motion tends to remain in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force has applications beyond physics.

In economic systems, if an outside force tends to accelerate distribution of funds to a majority that has a propensity to spend or to create new businesses, then any given amount of income will be re-used often, creating new wealth and reducing inequality.

Conversely, if an outside force tends to concentrate income among even a minority that tends to conserve (read "hoard") it (does the phrase "preservation of capital" ring a bell?), then income will be sequestered or spent on luxury goods and will not be available for development, leading to greater inequality.

In an oligarchical society, one in which a small number of powerful people make rules for others, there is a historically clear tendency to choose the latter course. This manifests itself as “cut taxes” campaigns, reduction of social services and an increase in funds directed to authoritarian control, such as more police and military expenditures that are not driven by external threat. More guns, less butter.

In a democratic society, one in which the maximum number of people participate in decision making, there is a countervailing tendency to choose a redistribution strategy. This results in higher taxes, but the increasing wealth and power of the common family generally causes increase in spending on education, infrastructure and social services like old-age assistance and medical care. Marginally fewer yachts, massively more teacher’s aides.

Note from the article that only modest changes in income distribution have a large effect in either direction. As they might say in Hollywood: No middle class or working people were harmed in the production of Minnesota’s movie.

It's pretty easy to see the effects of political intervention by government. The adjacent graph (Source) shows the redistribution of income to the wealthy that has progressed under some administrations and slowed under others. I leave it to you to assess which party is (R)esponsible for the (R)egressive trends.

(Thanks to Glenda S for calling my attention to this HP article.)

Debate Vocabulary
A reader sent some words you may need for the Sunday night debate between Hillary Clinton and the person described herein: absolutist, arriviste, assailant, barbarian, base, biased, bigoted, blowhard, blue, boaster, boor, braggart, brute, brutish, buffoon, cad, charlatan, chauvinistic, cheap, cheat, chuff, churl, common, con artist, conniver, contemptible, contemptuous, crass, crude, deceiver, dictatorial, dirty, discriminatory, disdainful, dissimulator, dogmatic, egoist, egomaniac, equivocator, fanatical, fibber, filthy, foul-mouthed, fractious, gross, gruff, hateful, hidebound, ill-bred, Immodest, impolite, improper, impure, indelicate, inelegant, inflexible, insular, intolerant, irritable, jaundiced, jerk, know-it-all, lout, loutish, low, mean, miser, mysogenist, narcissist, narrow, narrow-minded, nasty, niggard, oaf, obdurate, obscene, offensive, off-color, one-dimensional, one-sided, opinionated, parochial, partisan, parvenu, petty, philistine, phony, predisposed, presupposing, prejudiced, prevaricator, prideful, profiteer, provincial, racist, raffish, rapist, rapacious, raw, raunchy, reactionary, ribald, rough, rude, scoundrel, selfish, sexist, show-off, small-minded, smutty, snippy, stinker, swindler, tacky, tightwad, trickster, TRUMP, uncharitable, uncivil, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unfair, unforgiving, unrefined, upstart, unsympathetic, vulgar, vulgarian, wild, xenophobe, xenophobic, yokel...
Governor’s Committee Honors Employers Hiring Disabled
OLYMPIA –As Washington celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, nine public and private employers were honored today for their exemplary work recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting individuals with disabilities.

Washington’s Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment (GCDE) and Business Leadership Network organize this ceremony annually to recognize state employers. It was held this year at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond.

“Our award winners excel at tapping into the tremendous energy and talent pool in the disability community,” said Chris Carnell, Governor’s Committee chairman. “They’re role models for the entire state.”

Winners of the 2016 Governor’s Employer Awards Program are:
· Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland
· Excelsior Youth Center, Spokane
· InsideWorks, Seattle
· Little Anchor Childcare Center, Seattle
· Microsoft
· Snohomish County
· Sodexo - Walla Walla University Team
· Washington Access Fund, Seattle
· Washington State Department of Licensing

Washington businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals submitted the nominations and a panel of GCDE members, business representatives and previous award recipients selected this year’s honorees.

The committee also honored Emily Cooper for her commitment to people with disabilities. Cooper, an attorney with Disability Rights Washington, received the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown — the highest honor given to someone with a disability who has significantly empowered people with disabilities in Washington.

A new award this year — the Employment Support Professional Award — went to Sue Anne Lemkin. As the Supported Employment coordinator for Snohomish County, Lemkin creates job opportunities for workers with developmental disabilities.

The Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment advises the governor, Legislature, state agencies and other policy makers on issues important to people with disabilities.

For interviews with the award winners and photos from the Oct. 7 ceremony, contact Melinda Johnson. For more information about the GCDE, contact Executive Secretary Toby Olson at 360-902-9489.
Governor’s Committee Seeks Advocates for Disabled
Persons interested in being an advocate for people with disabilities may consider applying for membership on the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

This state committee is recruiting new members to identify issues and concerns pertaining to the rights and needs of people with disabilities. The committee advises the Governor, Legislature, state agencies, the business community, organized labor, other public and private organizations and the general public. Members make policy recommendations with an emphasis on increasing opportunities for independence and employment.

“The committee has tremendous talent and contributes many volunteer hours working on projects that make a difference in the lives of Washington’s disability community,” said Chris Carnell, current chair of the committee.

Members must have a disability, have a family member with a disability or work as advocates for people with disabilities. The Governor appoints members to serve a three-year term with an opportunity to be reappointed for a second term. Members can live anywhere in the state.

The Governor’s Committee is administered by the Employment Security Department.

To be considered for an appointment to the board, apply by Aug. 31, 2016.

Find out more about becoming a member and read about the application process on Contact Debbie Himes at 360-902-9362 for more information.
Voters ignore continuing decline in joblessness
Initial unemployment claims fell last week, dropping the average over the previous month to its lowest level in 14 years, the Labor Department said Thursday, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

About 278,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits, down 10,000 from the previous week. The decline was larger than economists had forecast.

The figure remained above the post-Great Recession low of 266,000, reached in the week ended Oct. 11.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the volatility of the closely watched labor market barometer, has been falling steadily since the beginning of the year.
A modest proposal: License police officers
The current turmoil in Ferguson, MO, is sadly nothing new. The tragedy of an apparently promising young man lost is being compounded by anger among the population and compounding of racial tension by local police. The good news is that this can become a teachable moment.

Much of the problem we are witnessing stems from low expectations for our police, by the public and even by the police themselves. Police brutality is not a myth, and police officers who misbehave often move on down the road to misbehave elsewhere. Yet police must often engage in a dangerous balancing act few of us would care to adopt as our way of life.

One recurrent proposal over the years has been the creation of national standards for policing, licensing of officers and the removal of political influence from police procedure. The profound inadequacy and even total lack of training of local police creates a patchwork of policing in the US, ranging from superb to appalling. In this case, think Keystone Cops with bazookas.

Herewith a nudge in what I think could be the right direction. There are several interlocking components.

1. Preliminary Training

Professional police academies can produce professional police officers. No one without such training should be given a badge and gun and told to "be careful out there." The training should have a structure similar to other post-secondary education. Schoolteachers are required to pass through two or three levels of college to advance and are typically required to engage in continuing education throughout their careers. Similarly, police officers should be obliged to complete preparatory education and then pass through regular examinations in law and best practices. Supervisors should need the equivalent of bachelors and masters degrees at least comparable to teachers, laboratory workers, firefighters and others who are occasionally charged with life and death situations.

2. National Standards

The standards for policing need to be national. It cannot be acceptable for police in one state or city to exercise their power brutally against people they simply dislike, while in other jurisdictions police are weakened to the point of ineffectiveness.

3. National License

A license to serve as a police officer should be defined using the national standards, and dismissal in one jurisdiction should result in loss of that license, either with or without the potential for redemption after a period of time and re-education. The license could be administered by the states for efficiency, but the standards must be the same, and national funds should not be available to nonconforming states.

The "best practices" are surely well established in law and education in most states and could be amalgamated to a national standard with regional options (for example, rules on operating in mountainous terrain could be waived for Kansas and Florida, but gratuitously beating minority citizens would be equally illegal in Mississippi, Montana and Massachusetts). A system of standardized, national licensing would be relatively easy and could be in place in under five years at minimal expense (the cost of creating a national academy to produce the needed standards is probably no more than is being expended -- some would say wasted-- in Missouri this week). This would primarily benefit police officers, as their career options would dramatically increase. There are many aspects to designing a good system that would need planning and continuous refinement; for example, retention of quality officers by small, relatively poor jurisdictions.

Our police do indeed protect most of us from harm, and they do indeed confront danger often, for which we should thank them and help them to advance in their profession, to our mutual benefit.
U.S. Supreme Court reinstates Washington’s Top-Two Primary
SEATTLE-- Calling the decision an extraordinary victory for voters, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding Washington’s wide open Top-Two Primary.

The 7-2 decision handed down today follows years of court battles over the primary and the rights of voters to choose any candidate on the ballot. In a Top-Two Primary, voters do not have to declare any party affiliation, and can vote for any candidate, regardless of the candidate’s political party preference. In today’s decision, the Court rejected the political parties’ claims that this type of primary is unconstitutional.


Attorney General explains new credit freeze rules
SEATTLE – Following on the heels of Washington and other states that have approved credit freeze laws, the nation’s three leading credit bureaus recently announced they will provide all Americans with the opportunity to freeze unwanted access to their credit history. But before you rush to sign up, the Attorney General’s Office says there are some things you should know.


Anti-choking ordinance aims to deter domestic attacks
Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that legislation to address assault by strangulation, one of the most serious domestic violence crimes, has been introduced by a bipartisan coalition in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The full story is in Civic Affairs.

Full Story

AG Hits Procedures for Eminent Domain, But...
We received the following notice two hours before the event:
January 24, 2007 - McKenna-Gregoire Eminent Domain Notice bill up for hearing today at 3:30 p.m. 92 legislators sign on to bills in House and Senate

OLYMPIA – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear a bill providing landowners increased opportunity to protect their homes from condemnation today. The hearing will be live on TVW at 3:30 p.m.


School board seeks public input on sup't. search
The Seattle School Board will hold a series of meetings on Jan. 16, 17, and 18 to gather public input on the superintendent search process. Specifically, community members will be asked to discuss the characteristics and qualities they want in Seattle Public Schools’ next superintendent. These meetings will provide the board, and the consulting firm assisting in the search, with information they will use in recruiting candidates for the next leader for Seattle Public Schools.

A series of eight open community meetings are planned Jan. 16-18. In addition, the consultants will meet with representatives of community associations and organizations; school employees; school leaders; and the district’s senior leadership team. The meeting scheduled only for employees is at 4:15 p.m., Jan. 16 at the Mercer Middle School lunchroom. Employees may also attend any general meeting. For the news release and complete meeting schedule, visit the district Web site.

District Site

School Disctrict Considers More Site Consolidations
Seattle School District has announced preliminary recommendation on school consolidation and closure - phase II. Slated for closure are the Pinehurst, Pathfinder and Genesee sites. The announcement was made September 18, 2006. This announcement begins a period of review and community input prior to the School Board vote on November 1. You can comment in the Forums.

District Announcement

School District Almost Decides, Maybe
After numeous postponements, the Seattle School District announced the forthcoming closure of seven schools for Fall 2007. This time it's final. MAYBE.

Here is the list from the district site. The -> symbol represents consolidation. (Italicized parenthetical comments reflect comments from readers. As always, the Forums are open for comments.)

To be closed: Viewlands, John Marshall, M.L. King, Hughes, Fairmount park, Orca, Rainier View.

Full list of closings and reallocations (luckily, the District has used the same clarify of written expression they are teaching your children):

Viewlands Elementary -> Greenwood Elementary
John Marshall -> unspecified

M.L. King Elementary -> T.T. Minor

Hughes (temporarily house So. Lake Alternative)
Fairmount Park -> High Point
Orca (Columbia Bldg.)
Rainier View Elementary


(1*) The inability to identify two additional schools in the Northeast/Central quadrant results from demographics and a desire to adhere to the School Board's principles and criteria in identifying schools to close.

(Read: We don't know what is going to happen and we'd rather not make a professional decision and assume responsibility for the consequences. Furthermore, we're afraid of doing anything that might offend anyone about a school named Martin Luther King.)

The district will work on adjustments to assignment plans, and with communities, and expects another closure conversation during Fall 2006 to finish the process in this quadrant. Specifically,

(1) The CAC identified excess capacity in the central area of the equivalent of one school, but recommended the District discuss with the community and develop the best option for closure of one of four schools between Bailey Gatzert, Leschi, Thurgood Marshall, and T.T. Minor.

(2) The Superintendent did not accept the recommendation of the CAC to close Sacajawea Elementary School. The demographics in Northeast combined with an assignment plan that does not permit non-voluntary assignments to alternative schools result in an inability to find reference area schools for Sacajawea students at this time. (There is excess capacity in this area of the city, but the majority of that excess capacity is at Summit K-12 alternative school).

(*2) The preliminary recommendation relocated the Pathfinder program from the Genesee Hill building to the Boren Building and closing the Genesee Hill building. While Boren has positive attributes for the 6-8 portion of Pathfinder, it is not well suited for the K-5 portion. Additionally, staff determined that a higher use of the Boren site is for continued use as an interim site for future south Seattle capital projects.

(Read: We got too much heat on our original choices and feared our contracts would not be renewed.)

The district will work on adjustments to assignment plans, and with communities, and expects another closure conversation during Fall 2006 to finish the process in this quadrant. Specifically,

(1) There is excess capacity in the Southwest quadrant to close two schools (Hughes serves as an interim site).

(2) The Genesee Hill building is in poor condition and the district believes the Pathfinder program can be relocated into another site.

(Read: Despite our enormous salaries and several postponements, we couldn't get the job done on our own published schedule.)

PS: We don't know why the notes are not sequential either. It may have something to do with the unannotated asterisks in the text. Or it may be that those are not asterisks but stars, as in "we hope the answer will be revealed in the stars."

Mexico's Fox Addresses Seattle Audience
Mexican President Vicente Fox stated "The 21st century is the century of migration" while speaking to the private Rainier Club in downtown Seattle. "Managing migration can be done, and can be done with a purpose and can be done to the betterment of the people involved in it," he asserted.

More at Forbes