Sunday, September 20, 2015
I hated it. I despise pressure to give complements. On top of which, what would I say when someone did an unexpectedly good job, or an extraordinary one? There was no space on the scale.
And then, it got worse. Firms like Uber fire drivers who get ratings less than 4.5 stars. Customers all know it, and drivers know what the customer ratings are, so if you want to do business with these firms, you are under enormous pressure to give five-star ratings.
Thanks to this, five stars is a C. There is no way to give A’s and B’s. Maybe the drivers were all born in Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.”
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
It seems that Google has bought ITA, which is now Google Flights, and Microsoft has bought a bunch of other travel sites, whch are now all Expedia. The remaining player in the market is Priceline’s Kayak.com. Google will send you to a single airline site to book all of your flights, Microsoft’s Expedia acts as a travel agency, Kayak sends you to airline sites.
For really cheap travel, priceline.com uses an auction system, but you never know if you’re going to be routed through New York on your way from Seattle to Walla Walla.
Me, I travel as the crow flies.
Friday, February 20, 2015
- At the Federal level, some 20% of healthcare.gov users, about 800,000 people, have been sent invalid 1095-A forms. Statement from the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Corrected forms will be sent. People who filed based on the invalid forms will be contacted by "the Treasury," likely the IRS. If you have a healthcare.gov account, log in to it to find out if you have been affected.
- California has not yet issued a statement. The LA Times reports that 100,000 incorrect forms have been sent. According to that report, corrected forms will be sent out soon.
The best practical coverage I have seen so far (but what do I do?) comes from Kelly Philips—"taxgirl" (girl?)—at the anti-Obamacare Forbes. She promises updates.
Myself, I think that the miserly nature and complexity of the ACA made some screw-up likely. It's not the liberals who want a bureaucratic state. It's the conservatives and the libertarians, who want each penny accounted for, for fear that some undeserving person might have picked one up.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
For people between 18 and 65
- You're rich. You can afford the care you need
- You're well-to-do. Insurance companies are required to sell you a policy and you can afford it.
- You're on the edge of well-to-do. Insurance companies are required to sell you a policy, but it's going to hurt, and it's going to hurt some more if you're over 50 or get really sick.
- You're doing OK. Insurance companies are required to see you a policy and there will be a subsidy to help out. Getting sick will hurt your wallet. If you're unlucky and have a modest windfall, the IRS will demand the subsidy back.
- You're squeaking along. Insurance companies are required to sell you a policy but the subsidy won't be enough.
- Your family savings are circling the drain. (a) In Medicaid expansion states, the government pays your health care, but you may have difficulty getting the subcontracted care-managment companies to pay. (b) In Medicaid-limited states, you are SOL, and will have to rely on charity. Don't get sick.
- Your family savings are gone, or never existed. The government pays your health care, but you may have difficulty getting the subcontracted care-managment companies to pay. You have many other problems, and time spent working the health care system makes them worse. Don't get sick.
This is an improvement over the pre-ACA situation.
For people 65 and over
- You're rich. You can afford the care you need.
- You have retired well, were able to purchase supplemental insurance early, or have a retirement medical benefit. You will get most of the care you need, but may run out of money for long-term care, in which case, see "You're poor."
- You can afford Medicare parts B and D (A is automatic, and there is no C), but not much supplemental coverage. Your doctor visits are not covered. Some of your medications are covered.
- You cannot afford Medicare parts B and D. Hospitalization is covered, but not the ambulance in emergencies.
- You're poor. You are required to spend most of your savings on care and then Medicaid steps in.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
- Data mining. There are far too many abuses possible when large dossiers are compiled on individuals. Easy marks for con games, blackmail victims, people with unpopular political views—you name it, they can find you. And everyone is vulnerable in some way, when the dossier is large enough; if they can't get you, they can get your friends. For the sake of individual freedom, I want to see the compilation of large numbers of dossiers by anyone outlawed.
- Internet stalking. This is what the big social media sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and does, whenever you visit a site that has their button on it, unguarded, it records your presence there. Ever had a scary ex? Suppose they worked for Google. Scared now? Likewise, I want to see this outlawed.
- Abuse of social media access by monopolists. The condition for socializing ought not be the rights to use what you say or your images in any way, or stalk you.
A medical center I work with employs a major third-party service provider as their "secure" e-mail service. In its terms of service, it claims that data passed through it is not covered by HIPPA, the US medical privacy law. It claims the right to use your correspondence and records data in any way, though it does promise to conceal your name. Medical records are as individual as fingerprints, so one is no more anonymous than one is if one gives a photograph of oneself. And, finally, it uses web bugs to track your web activity. So this medical e-mail provider is compiling a dossier on you which it can sell in any way, it stalks you, and abuses social media access. I do not advise accepting the Terms of Service.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
What do I mean by the role of rents? Consider the changing identity of the most valuable company in America. For a long time, it was GM, then Exxon, then IBM. These were companies with huge visible production activities: GM had more than 400,000 employees, which was amazing when you consider that the overall national work force was much smaller than the one we have today, Exxon had oil refineries. IBM was an information technology company, but it still had many of the attributes of an old-style manufacturing giant, with many factories and a large, well-paid work force.
But now it’s Apple, which has hardly any employees and does hardly any manufacturing. The company tries, through fairly desperate PR efforts, to claim that it is indirectly responsible for lots of US jobs, but never mind. The reality is that the company is basically built around technology, design, and a brand identity.—http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/how-are-these-times-different/I am delighted to see you considering these issues. These are very important questions, and of great interest to writers, musicians, illustrators, publishers, and so on, as well as to media device manufacturers like Apple and Amazon.
Kraw… It is a half-truth to say that "Apple has hardly any employees and does hardly any manufacturing." Their subcontractors have many employees in China. In the long run, it doesn't seem likely that the brand will survive; touch-screen computing devices are becoming commodities and other firms can also hire good designers and marketers.
Apple stands in the relation to the various content producers—publishers, recording firms, television and movie producers, and so on—as NBC used to stand to RCA. NBC was founded by RCA as a way to sell radios and transmission equipment. Apple instead licenses content. Amazon, on the other hand, is following the Sarnoff model; it is becoming a publisher. It is also following the Walton model, and pressing hard on the price of its "suppliers;" if the Amazon model of publishing becomes the standard, very few professional writers will be able to make a living at it.
One especially significant area of products: applications, especially games. By and large, apps are not portable between platforms without considerable effort. It is apps that make the platform brands like iPad, PSP, and X-Box so strong.
No economic thoughts here, but perhaps some grist for the mill.