Tuesday :: Jul 11, 2006

The Four Reasons


by pessimist

Even with 32% or so of the nation still being supporters, any objective observer of Bu$hCo would have to conclude that it is a failure. Everything they have touched has turned to crap, as if they are some Rumplestiltskin-in-reverse. I'm going to look today at examples of failure from just four categories of responsibility: international stability, the 'War' on 'terror', Medicare, and the domestic economy.

International Stability

South Korea's efforts to open dialogue with the North has been reasonably successful, and may well have achieved the goals enumerated by Bu$hCo - but without the militarist bluster which has only gotten Kim Jong Il's back up. Japan - fearful that the United States will renege on defending that nation (the costs would be tremendous, and they especially know what kind of shape our economy is in), are calling for a return to the militarism of the 1930s that proved so disastrous for them in the 1940s.

The 'War On Terror'

When one is at war, one isn't supposed to attack one's friends. That is the quickest way to make new enemies.

But that is exactly what Bu$hCo is doing. Just like the situation involving North Korea, the US has gotten between the conflicting interests of allies.

Donald duh-Rumsfeld is in Tajikistan, chiding Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov for not doing more to eliminate Taliban drug running activities in his impoverished nation. Rahmonov was understandably distressed:

At a news conference with Mr. Rumsfeld, Tajikistan’s foreign minister, Talbak Nazarov, complained that Tajikistan “is always blamed as the country that serves as the transit point for Afghan drugs.”

They have reason to be upset. Tony the Killer Attack Lap Poodle is charged with assisting the Afghan government counternarcotics activities, and has sent 900 more troops there to counter the increasing influence of the Taliban, but one isn't seeing banner headlines announcing the displeasure of Bu$hCo over No. 10's failure to have things under control in Karzai-stan.

Also, Rummy is one to talk about actions failing to produce results:

The State Department financed a $700 million eradication effort last year, but it was plagued by delays and eliminated only a small amount of poppy acreage.

Sounds like Bu$hCo, alright!

Medicare

It also sounds like Medicare Part D.

The idea was that consumers could call for information from the various companies in order to make an informed choice in selecting a drug plan. Consumers would be served just as well by tossing a dart at a chart or rolling dice.

It turns out that even the companies themselves don't know what is going on:

Federal investigators said Monday that Medicare prescription drug plans generally provided incomplete and inaccurate information to callers who asked questions about the new benefit.

Investigators placed 900 calls to 10 of the largest companies that offer drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries. They reached customer service representatives in 864 calls. The plans provided accurate, complete responses to one-third of the calls, 294 of the 864. Twenty-two percent of the 864 responses were inaccurate, 29 percent were incomplete, and no answers were provided to the other questions [26%].

Two of the 10 companies gave inaccurate or incomplete information at least 75 percent of the time, the report said. And operators at the same company sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

The G.A.O. said, “Relatively few customer service representatives were able to accurately identify the least costly plan and calculate its annual cost.”
Insurers failed to provide complete and accurate cost information more than 70 percent of the time, investigators said. For people taking large numbers of prescription drugs, the disparity between the stated cost and the actual cost was often thousands of dollars a year, more than $6,000 in one case.

Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California, one of five House members who requested the study, said: “It’s not enough to simply answer the phone. Medicare should guarantee that plans provide accurate and complete information.

"If private plans can’t meet basic standards for quality service, they should not be in the program.”
Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, said: “Any program that relies on choice must ensure that those choices are well informed. The G.A.O. has found that seniors receive accurate and complete information from Medicare drug plans only one-third of the time. This is inexcusable and must change.”

The Bush administration took issue with the report and defended the work of the plans. The administration said the auditors should have asked different questions or should have phrased the questions differently.

Male Bovine Excrement!

Is there some Bu$hCo-approved question script being issued so that people can ask questions in the language drug plan providers can understand? Of course not! People are going to ask questions based on what understanding they already have, not that which suits the needs of Bu$hCo cronies. This is just another lame excuse being offered to absolve said cronies for not doing the jobs they have been entrusted by Bu$hCo to do.

And speaking of lame jobs, ...

The Economy


Another Mission ‘Accomplished’
NYT Editorial
July 11, 2006

The release of the White House midsession budget review is an annual event normally marked by a few wonkish observations and the routine updating of various spreadsheets, not by a full-dress presidential dog-and-pony show.
This is proof, if anyone still needs it, that
this administration is desperate for something to boast about.
On Mr. Bush’s watch, triple-digit budget surpluses have turned into annual triple-digit budget deficits. There’s no information in the midsession report to alter that utterly dispiriting fact.
Mr. Bush is sure to use today’s event to credit tax cuts for a projected “surge” in tax revenue. In fact, it is $100 billion less than the $2.5 trillion revenue estimate the administration touted when it set out in 2001 to sell its policy of never-ending tax cuts. Even with this year’s bigger haul, real revenue growth during the Bush years will be abysmal, averaging about 0.3 percent per capita, versus an average of nearly 10 percent in all previous post-World War II business cycles. That might be excusable if the recent revenue improvements could reasonably be expected to continue. They cannot.
Much of the increase in tax receipts is from corporate profits, high-income investors and super high-earning executives - sources that are just as unpredictable as the financial markets to which they’re inevitably linked.
So, the revenue surge is neither a sign that the tax cuts are working nor of sustainable economic growth.
If Mr. Bush looked behind his headline numbers, he, too, could see that the rich are getting richer while the rest are, at best, only holding ground. A growing number of economists, most prominently from the Congressional Budget Office, point out that upsurges in revenue are also the result of growing income inequality in the United States, an observation that is consistent with mounting evidence of a rapidly widening gap between the rich and everyone else. As corporations and high- income Americans claim ever more of the economic pie, revenues rise, even if there’s no increase in overall economic growth.

It would make sense to use some of the windfall revenue to enact policies and programs that tilt against growing inequality.

Unfortunately, he’s flogging more tax cuts that will deepen the divide.

When King George was coronated - er, inaugurated, he swore an oath to be President of the United States [sic] and not President of the Wealthy of the United States.

This is only the most egregious example of how Bu$hCo has failed. There are so many others. Take your pick, they are everywhere, littering the landscape like the prostrate bodies of fawning Democrats. You can tell them from the Republicans, who are on their knees with mouths agape, as if receiving Communion.

It is becoming more clear to me that We, the People are on our own. Considering how we have abrogated our responsibilities as voters, this should come as no surprise - but we all know lots of people to whom this news would be a revelation.

Because we bear the ultimate responsibility for the commonweal, we are getting that which we deserve - and I doubt that we are going to be able to pull things out of the fiery hell toward which Bu$hCo is piloting.

That is thus the biggest failure of all - and it's all ours for failing in our duties as informed citizens. We are getting what we deserve for failing to pay attention to our responsibilities - a corrupt tyrant corporatist king.

Copyrighted [©] source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


FAIR USE NOTICE


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 7:47 AM :: Comments (6) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!