Posts tagged ‘Bill Maher’

Mozilo and Healthcare Tan Tax to the Rescue?

Ideological trains came crashing together as the battle for comprehensive healthcare reform resulted in the whole enchilada approach of the Democrats winning over the baby-step approach advocated by the Republicans.  Thank goodness there is a savior to remedy the hefty $940 billion costs of the national healthcare plan…Angelo Mozilo. Not only will this mortgage tycoon (former CEO of Countrywide – the largest U.S. mortgage lender at one time) have his fat-cat wallet to fund multiple new healthcare taxes on the wealthy, but the government will also be collecting a new 10% tanning tax on all Mr. Mozilo’s bronzing sessions. Perhaps the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) healthcare reform cost saving estimates ($138 billion in the first decade) may come in even better than anticipated?

20,000,000 Tanning Sessions to Health

The public shouldn’t shed a tear for the real estate pain Mr. Mozilo endured – he still managed to stash a nice pile of dough before the mortgage walls came tumbling down on him. Given Mr. Mozilo’s timely sale of about $300 million in Countrywide stock before  the share price cratered, coupled with the $23.8 million retirement fund and roughly $21 million in deferred compensation (Minyanville.com), Mr. Mozilo should have enough money to cover about 20,000,000 tanning sessions by my calculation. That sounds like a rather large number, but I expect Mr. Mozilo will shrewdly negotiate a bulk discount for the sessions, even if the government disapproves of the asssociated lost tax revenues.

However, one major potential hurdle for Mozilo may be finding the adequate time for tanning. If the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is successful in prosecuting him on the alleged securities fraud and insider trading charges, then he may need to petition for a tanning bed in the prison gym.

Unintended Beach-going Consequences

Although we all condemn the harmful side effects of skin cancer from sunbathing, let’s not completely dismiss some of the advantages, including the benefits of Vitamin D production. Other cited ailments benefitting from sunlight exposure include, eczema, arthritis, psoriasis, acne, season affective disorder, and depression. One of the worse afflictions suffered by beach-goers (male and female alike) is the tragic “pastiness” condition. One of the severe unintended consequences of President Obama’s tanning tax may indeed be the extreme ridicule unleashed on light skinned beach bums that are unable to afford the tanning tax (see photo below).

Toss the Drumstick

On a more serious note, I get the fact that the government wants to raise a substantial amount of money to cover an extensive healthcare bill like this one – either through taxes and/or cost cuts.  However, I think there are other areas in the healthcare food chain that need to climb higher in the national debate. Although, I’m OK with the tanning tax, I strongly believe there is more fertile ground in attacking obesity (see article on the Economics and Consequences of Obesity) and other costlier areas of treatment. The amount of money spent on managing obesity, and associated ailments, trounces the expenditures directed towards cancer by more than $50 billion by some estimates.  Dated data shows we are spending more than $100 billion dollars on obesity-related healthcare costs. One study estimates obesity costs in the United States will reach $344 billion by 2018.

Bolstering the severity of the condition, the CDC (Center of Disease Control) noted the following:

“More than one third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people—and 16% of U.S. children are obese. Since 1980, obesity rates for adults have doubled and rates for children have tripled. Obesity rates among all groups in society—irrespective of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, or geographic region—have increased markedly.”

 

I realize the importance of a copper tone tan can have on the lives of millions of Americans, and I also recognize the tanning tax is just a small blip in the growing 2,200 healthcare bill signed into law. Nonetheless, the spotlight of the healthcare debate needs to focus on the highest cost silos (i.e., obesity). Otherwise, I’m not completely sure whether all of Angelo’s taxed tanning sessions will be enough to cover our country’s immense healthcare costs?

Related Article: Bill Maher Chearleads No Profit Healthcare

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

*DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing had no direct positions in BAC or any security mentioned in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

March 24, 2010 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

Maher Cheerleads No Profit Healthcare

Maher Bill

Bill Maher, shock-comedian and host of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, has made up a new rule in a recent article, “Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit.”

Hey Bill, that sounds intriguing.  I’ve got an idea – how about you decide to work for no profit? If free healthcare is a right for every American, then why should people pay for your stupid jokes? If I have a right to free healthcare, then why not a right to free laughs?

Don’t get me wrong, our system is broke and needs to be fixed. The real question, is insuring an additional  50 million uninsured, by the same bureaucratic healthcare system leading the Medicare train-wreck, our best approach in solving our healthcare crisis? Sure, doing nothing should not be a fallback, but I’m not sure a trillion dollar healthcare plan with Washington bureaucrats is the best idea either? I’m not against government involvement, but before we dive headfirst into the deep-end with additional deficit exploding plans, why not wade in the shallow end and slowly roll-out success-based models that prove their superiority first.

I’m no medical expert, but let’s take the best structures, whether it’s the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, or other leading structures and have the government manage a steady roll-out. If the government can prove a lower-cost, more efficient way of serving higher quality care, then by all means…let’s see it. Some argue we don’t have time to test new models, well unfortunately our disastrous system took decades to create and a pork-filled bill through Congress is not going to be an immediate silver-bullet for our dire healthcare problems.

Getting back to Mr. Maher’s profit objections on healthcare, I wonder if he’s ever complained or contemplated the innovations created by the profit-laden healthcare system. Whether it’s an MRI, hip replacement, cholesterol drug, cancer test, glaucoma treatment, ADHD medication or the hundreds of other beneficial advancements, maybe Mr. Maher should ask and understand where all these innovations came from? The answer: good old profits that were invested in critical research and development. Without those profits, there would be fewer and less impactful healthcare innovation for millions of Americans.

As for the firemen who do not “charge” or make a profit, I would like to remind Mr. Maher who is paying their fair share for those services consumed by hundreds of millions of Americans – it’s those same “soulless vampires making money off human pain” that you castigate. Profitable corporations are funding those essential government services with tax dollars derived from, you guessed it, profits. If we can find a lower-cost, more efficient way of serving the public services by the government, then as Phil Knight from Nike (NKE) says, “Just Do It!” Unfortunately, I prefer to see some tangible proof first, before spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars.

Healthy Incentives

From an early age, even as babies, we are incentivized for certain behavior. Whether it’s offering M&Ms to potty-train a two year old, or submitting six-figure bonuses to a fifty-two year old for hitting department profit targets, incentives always plays a central role in shaping behavior. Figure out the desired behavior and create incentives for your subjects (and penalties for non-compliance).

As the government comes up with a public solution, I have no problem with Washington pressuring insurance companies and the medical industry to become more efficient and provide a higher threshold of care. I’m confident that structures can be put in place that mitigate conflicts of interest (i.e., pure profit motive), while increasing the standard of care and efficiency. Rewarding the healthcare industry with incentives, rather than just simply beating them over the head with lower reimbursements under a single-payer system, may produce longer-lasting, sustainable benefits.

In certain areas of society, such as policemen/women, firefighters, national defense, and doctors there has always been a view that government is better suited for handling certain services. However, sometimes government does not implement the proper incentive plans, which then leads to bureaucracy, inefficiency, and excessive costs. Eventually, these negative trends overwhelm the system into failure, much like sand grinding engine gears to a halt.

Bill, I appreciate your viewpoint, and I like you would love if everything was free. For starters, I’ll look for your press release announcing the cancellation of your multi-million contract with HBO, closely followed by the revelation of your pro-bono comedy work. Here’s to profitless prosperity.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®  

Plan. Invest. Prosper.  

www.Sidoxia.com

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in NKE, or any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

August 17, 2009 at 3:55 am 3 comments


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