Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
AM EST, Wednesday, July
22, 2009. Thomas Jefferson once said A government
big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything
you have. Remember this quote when you're reading about Washington's proposed
health care plan.
may now be time for all of us to study the plan and alert our congresspeople
as to our feelings. The bottom line is simple: The proposed plan is expensive
-- guess who'll pay for it? -- and not well conceived. How could it possibly
be well-conceived, given how little time the Administaton has been in power
-- just six months. And there've been some other minor crises in those six months
(like the economy and the banking system).
most efficient provider of health care is probably the Mayo Clinic. They've
now come out against the plan. This is from a reporter for (of all things) Information
Blog Blasts Obamacare
Posted by Paul McDougall on July 21, 2009
No less a revered,
tech-savvy institution than the Mayo Clinic has come out swinging against
President Obama's national healthcare agenda. "The real losers will be
the citizens of the United States," warns the clinic's official blog.
The problem: The plan fails to employ data to gauge whether publicly-funded
providers are earning their money or operating Dickensian patient mills.
The Mayo Clinic
lauds the idea of healthcare insurance for all, but it believes that the current
plan before Congress would simply extend Medicare's vast inefficiencies and
failures to the wider public. "In general, the proposals under discussion
are not patient focused or results oriented," states the Mayo Clinic,
in a post on its Health Policy Blog that appeared last week.
A major shortcoming
with Medicare and Medicaid is that, controlling for regional variations, they
pay the same regardless of the level of care. That is, a hospital whose patients
are likely to die within 30 days of a bypass gets equal reimbursement for
the procedure as a hospital whose cardiac patients can expect to play tennis
well into the next decade.
reform would continue to reward such medical mediocrity, but on a universal
scale. The plan does envision so-called value-based payments, but not until
2012 or 2013. And the rewards for higher performance would be modest at best.
"Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental levera change in Medicare
payment policyto help drive necessary improvements in American healthcare,"
states the Mayo Clinic.
The real shame
here is that the data sets needed to create a true, results-based payment
system (i.e., the longer your patients live, the more money you'll make),
are available right now. The Mayo Clinic has for the past several years worked
closely with IBM to create one of the world's richest medical databases.
could be used to compare patient outcomes at specific institutions against
national and regional averages to gauge performance and create payment tables.
The better the performance, the higher the payment. "Outcomes data are
already available," the Mayo Clinic notes in a separate position paper
on the issue.
of other things wrong with Obamacare. The non-partisan Congressional Budget
Office says it's a trillion dollar budget buster.
the most fundamental shortfall with Obama's plan is its apparent willful
ignorance of existing healthcare data that could be mined with business intelligence
tools to add a dose of free-market reality. Otherwise, the program threatens
to make a trip to the doctor about as pleasant (and efficient) as getting
a new driver's license from your local DMV.
Dr. Atul Gawande
wrote a thoroughly eye-opening long piece in the New Yorker back
in June. He started:
health care is by far the most expensive in the world. In Washington, the
aim of health-care reform is not just to extend medical coverage to everybody
but also to bring costs under control. Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs,
and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The
financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses
and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance. Its
also devouring our government. The greatest threat to Americas
fiscal health is not Social Security, President Barack Obama said in
a March speech at the White House. Its not the investments that
weve made to rescue our economy during this crisis. By a wide margin,
the biggest threat to our nations balance sheet is the skyrocketing
cost of health care. Its not even close.
The question were now frantically grappling with is how this came to
be, and what can be done about it. McAllen, Texas, the most expensive town
in the most expensive country for health care in the world, seemed a good
place to look for some answers.
You can and should
read the entire piece. Click
You need to make
up your mind quickly on what's happening in Washington and make your feelings
known. Now is the time. The consequences of not studying this and not telling
Washington what you think may be too awful to contemplate and far too expensive
to even think about.
Banks On Thin Ice: From Business Insider's
crisis has passed in the sense that the sheer panic is gone. The structural
issues remain, though.
is a wonky way of gauging banking industry health, based on a data series
collected by the Fed. It shows the percentage of assets held at banks whose
allowance for loan losses exceeds their total non-performing loans -- a key
sign of health. In other words, the vast majority of banking sector assets
-- over 80% -- are currently in institutions where loan loss allowances (ALLL)
are below total non-performing loans.
measure of satisfaction for ARPs holders. The
SEC, Andrew Cuomo and others are still, remarkably chasing auction rate securities
money back for thousands of people still stuck in these "cash equivalents."
There are still three standouts which are acting irresponsibly -- Schwab,
Wells Fargo and Oppenheimer. If you're still stuck in these securities,
please read my latest update on www.AuctionRatePreferreds.org.
wonderful Federal government at work. This
really annoyed me.
Data on Risks of Distracted Driving
By MATT RICHTEL,
New York Times
In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000
drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel.
the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing
threat on Americas roadways.
But such an
ambitious study never happened. And the researchers agency, the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, decided not to make public hundreds
of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers
in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.
the full body of research is being made public for the first time by two consumer
advocacy groups, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the
documents. The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen provided a copy to
The New York Times, which is publishing the documents on its Web
the officials who withheld the research offered their fullest explanation
to date. The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to
withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned
the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby
that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees
the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost
lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.
The cell phone
industry has heavy lobbying in Washington.
is my wife? She's lost.
An older man approached an attractive younger
woman at a shopping mall.
'Excuse me; I
can't seem to find my wife. May I talk to you for a couple of minutes?'
The woman, feeling
a bit of compassion for the old fellow, said, 'Of course, sir. Do you know where
your wife might be?'
'I have no idea,
but every time I talk to a woman as as beautiful as your are, she appears out
of nowhere .. '
I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up . . . they have
no holidays. - Henny Youngman
Most Texans think
Hanukkah is some sort of duck call. - Richard Lewis
My father never
lived to see his dream come true of an all-Yiddish-speaking Canada. - David
Even if you are
Catholic, if you live in New York you're Jewish. If you live in Montana, you
are going to be goyish even if you are Jewish. - Lenny Bruce
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
is . You can't
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