Americans cut their own healthcare costs, and that’s a bad thing:
“Patients cut back on prescription drugs and doctor visits last year, a sign that many Americans are still struggling to pay for health care…” – NY Times

Stop right there. Is a reduction in prescriptions and doctor visits a bad thing? Healthcare spending is almost at crisis levels in the United States. And here you are telling me now that simply because we cut back that’s a sign people are struggling? It could mean that people are just tired of paying for drugs they may or may not need. Doctors are human, and therefore may make mistakes and prescribe stuff you don’t need. Worse, doctors are human, and some bad apples are willing to take kickbacks in order to fatten their wallet and prescribe you drugs you don’t need.

Cutting back on our healthcare spending doesn’t solve the problems of healthcare expenses, but to imply that a cutback means people are struggling to to pay for care implies two narrow views: One, that all care is good and worth it. Two, the cutbacks were only due to cost.

Bipartican policy is a good thing:
Just because everyone agrees it’s a good idea still doesn’t make it one. Obama’s painfully named Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) bill got through the House and Senate without much bickering. First of all, no one says “business startups”. That’s like saying “pizza pie”. It’s not wrong, but no one says is. But the bill is being picked apart left and right for essentially making it easier for scam artists to get money from morons. The best summary comes from Andrew Ross Sorkin. But who are we to judge who should invest in what? Stupid people can make mistakes and live and learn right? Well the entire investment industry is highly regulated to essentially protect the idiots. This takes some of that away.

But what’s even dumber is the portrayal of this bill as some kind of victory for Washington. Imagine Democrats and Republicans are two football teams who want to play but can’t agree on the rules, location, scoring, or even what kind of turf to play on. But this week they announced that whenever they have that figure out the team kicking off will be decided by a coin flip. Great victory. The only reason this thing passed was no large company or rich guy behind the scenes really cared enough to lobby against it. If you need further proof bipartisan policies aren’t necessarily a good thing: JOBS undoes some of the bureaucracy created by another bipartisan law: Sarbanes-Oxley. And the law passed in 1999 that allowed banks to become the huge things everyone hates now: bipartisan. (Interesting sidenote, the law that allowed banks to become behemoths was of course debated by our elected officials at the time. Why hasn’t this gotten more play? Granted, Congresspeeps make predictions all the time and occasionally get lucky, but still).

Apps in store:
Do you have one of those QR code scanners on your smartphone?  Maybe you use the JCPenney app when you’re at the store to pull up cool deals or get product info.  Or maybe like me you want to see if those towels you wife has been eying at the department store are cheaper at online and scan the bar code.  In theory these are all really good apps.

But in practice, no one gets reception in stores.  In a time where wireless internet is almost ubiquitous, we still can’t check email in the bottom floor of a Nordstrom.  It’s awesome to have all these apps available but my dear retailers, if you are going to offer one meant to be used in your store, you better role out some free WiFi and MAKE A MOTHER FREAKING MOBILE VERSION OF YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONs PAGE!  Why do you never see this anywhere?


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categories: banking, business, government