Thursday, December 30, 2010

Volume 76 - Finally the End of 2010! ...or maybe not...

Within days, the pathetic year of 2010 will come to an end only to be put 'on the bookshelf' with its twin catastrophic sister of 2009; That's not 'pessimism' nor 'negativism' speaking it's simply stating the truth caused by a lack of understanding of our American History by people who legislate laws for this Great Country. As we know the Global economy went 'into the toilet' in 2008 due to Governmental errors by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of Government in '07 and '08 with 'stupidity' on the increase through '09 and '10 with nothing on the horizon which makes me think 2011 will be much better unless and until we understand our history of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and then re-institute the belief in those documents:

* Washington DC still is paralyzed and haven't a clue on what should be done for Small Business which employs 97% of working people; yet, violates Constitutional law by 'picking and choosing' 'the winners' be it Banks, Car Companies, Insurance Giants or Wall Street. They are still under the misunderstanding that 'they' have the right to 'bail-out' a selective part of 'business' in addition to promoting a health care program that no one wanted; doesn't serve the needs of the 'working' person or company; actually raises costs for small business; gives Government more control' over the individual; and finally will be run by bureaucrats, having a different Health Care Plan, who have the poorest record of group in running 'anything'!!!

*Washington DC and the 'Liberal Left' believe that our Constitution, Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights are some how outdated and was only applicable in the the 18th century.

* Washington DC has demagogued globalization for political gain, trying to blame all of our nation's economic trouble on trade, rather than on policy failures that are the true causes of our economic woes

* Washington DC has failed to address illegal immigration which has implications that reach far outside of California and Arizona that could infringe on our right to Bear Arms, as well as other Amendment ramifications.

None of the above would even be discussed if our leaders understood our History and the meaning of 'limited government' as well as the beliefs that were so evident as our Great Country was founded and brought forth by individuals never again to be seen:

On December 16th, 1773, "radicals" from Marlborough, Massachusetts, threw 342 chests of tea from three British East India Company ships into Boston Harbor in protest of oppressive taxation and tyrannical rule. They wrote of their actions, "A free-born people are not required by the religion of Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their...liberties." That event was the Boston Tea Party.

On April 19th, 1775, Paul Revere departed Charlestown, Massachusetts for Lexington and Concord, in order to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty that British regulars were coming to arrest them and seize their weapons caches. In the early dawn of that first Patriots Day, Captain John Parker, commander of the militiamen at Lexington, ordered, "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they want a war let it begin here." And it did - American Minutemen fired the "shot heard round the world."

On July 6th, 1775, Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson issued their Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms: "With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves."

A year later in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776, Jefferson and 55 merchants, farmers, doctors, lawyers and other representatives of the original 143 colonies of the United States of America, in the General Congress, assembled, pledged "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor" to the cause of liberty, declaring, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Our Founders further avowed, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mean are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, it was believed that the Articles of Confederation between the states, which had been adopted in 1777, were not sufficient to secure the interests of the confederation. Thus, delegates convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a new Constitution.

Using the Virginia Plan drafted primarily by James Madison the delegates spent five months deliberating a constitutional draft, which would secure the rights and principles enumerated in the Declaration of Independence by establishing a republican form of government under strict rule of law, reflecting the consent of the people and severely limiting the power of the central government.

To secure these rights the Bill of Rights was established "in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of powers..." Endeavoring to further define our Constitution's limits on government interference with the innate rights of the people, James Madison, its primary architect, introduced to the First Congress in 1789, a Bill of Rights - the first 10 Amendments to our Constitution, which was then ratified on the 15th of December, 1791.

This little touch on History is only a 'small onion peel' compared to the volumes of learning that is available; a time is our History that has been swept up with the onslaught of diversion to detract from the true meaning and intent of these magnificent documents. Today, more than two-thirds of the federal budget is spent on "objects of benevolence," for which there is no constitutional authority. Put another way, much of your income is being confiscated and redistributed unconstitutionally. As early as 1794, James Madison warned us and begun to rail against the government's unconstitutional urge to redistribute the wealth of its citizens: "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending , on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents...If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government t is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

Discussions of 'Entitlements' and how it has affected our last two generations of workforce is next on the agenda................... Com' On 2011!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Volume 75 - Where Are We Heading...?

It's the middle of the 4th Quarter (2010) and a good time to ask the 'big' question:
Where are We Heading as a Nation?

Economically speaking, as the Managing Partner & Founder of a small business the outlook is not very good. There are no 'indicators' on my radar screen showing any type of improvement in the foreseeable future. The Price of Gold has reached new levels never before seen, with some predictions pushing the $5,000 an ounce ceiling; but (possibly) more important is the Price of Silver which has climb to not only record levels but levels that were deemed improbable with no new ceiling in site. These two factors alone point out the Global Disaster 'sitting' in the wings.

Here's why:

1. Small business employs 97% of the working American workforce. Small business exists because historically they were able to borrow money and acquire lines of credit. Notice the word 'historically' - Today, that is simply not the case. Banks are not lending money and have cut deeply into any 'lines of credit' that were once available; yet, the Federal Government and this Administration simply just 'don't get it'! Why? Take the last bill signed by President Obama that supposedly gave 'small business' $30-billion in a lending bill. Where did the money go? It went to the Banks, earmarked for small community banks (right!) This administration 'hopes' that by going to somebody else that it may eventually get to the Small Business community; another 'Wizard of Oz' concept. As stated by Brian Miller, the President and COO of 'The Entrepreneur's Source, "If it does not (get into the hands of small business owners quickly) and we're faced with the same kind of situation that we were with TARP, where the banks just sit on the money and they don't get it in the hands of people that need it, then it's going to be a colossal failure."

2. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) announced that U.S. bank failures in 2010 were double the bank failures of 2009. The FDIC reported that another 702 banks ere nearing collapse. This same FDIC reports a negative balance of over $20 Billion dollars.

3. The US is experiencing the worst unemployment rate in 125 years and October job losses were the biggest in 34 years.

4. The rate of foreclosures thus far in 2010 exceed 2009 by an 80% increase.

5. Immigration analysts project another 100 million people flooding America within the next 25 years with 70 million of these 'new' Americans will be third world immigrants and their children with over half being 'illegals' as our Government is unable or unwilling to take the correct stand on immigration policies, procedures and enforcement.

6. There are now over 40 million Americans (one out of seven Americans), according to Government reports, living in poverty.

7. High Schools across this country are experiencing drop out rates of nearly 50%.

8. The U.S. ranks 18th and 24th in Math and Science on the World Stage with the majority of Math and Science Graduate Degrees going to non-Americans within our Graduate Schools.

8. We have 500,000 military personnel located on 700 military bases in 120 countries.

9. We have keep 35,000 troops at our expense on the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea for the past 50 years.

10. We are spending over 150 billion per year in Iraq and Afghanistan.

11. Our National Debt is now over 13 TRILLION Dollars

Because of the Mid-Term Election and the Declaration of the American People for directional change, the Republicans return to power in the House; however, this has happened in our History before, so (as the saying goes) We'll See................................

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Volume 74 - Four Key Components for Success

While preparing for my recent business trip to Memphis, I put together notes from a decade ago concerning changes at a major Hollow Metal Manufacturer as well as a 'distribution center' concept, since one of my meetings this coming week is 'distribution center' oriented. In reviewing my notes, letters, and outlines for the restructuring of a large Los Angeles Distribution Center it became very clear to me that the Four Major ingredients that I proposed many years ago are truer than ever today and not only apply to a restructure deal but apply to business in general; therefore, worth my 'blog' submittal.

Although these Four Major ingredients or Key Components were first established to clarify and to effectively 'change' the 'front-end' of a major hollow metal manufacturer and subsequently were used to 'change' a large distribution center, a revenue stream of the same hollow metal manufacturer, they are as applicable today as they were successful a decade ago. So whether they are used for a 'total restructure mandate' or simply used to tighten up a companies controls, procedures and quality of personnel or (as in the case of the distribution center) to elevate it to a much more effective facility, with quick ship manufacturing, wood doors, packaged hardware, and joint ventures concepts, the Four Key Components remain the same.

A few months before I took over the Presidency of Amweld (mid-1995), I realized that there were some major changes that had to take place if we were going to be able to handle the internal growth that I had projected through the Sales Department. Having control over Sales and Customer Service and LADC, it was logical that these changes had to be made with or without the input of other divisions within the company, as we all know 'manufacturing people' and 'financial people' live in their own small tightly woven world. Even though under my control, Sales, Customer Service and LADC did not embrace the idea of change, common within most manufacturing based facilities; nevertheless, this was not an option nor was it up for debate.

There had to be a 'reorganization' of the front-end of Amweld Building Products. There had to be a specific plan to reduce 'past dues' (which is the complete opposite of 100% complete and on-time) and at the same time work within the guidelines of a new detailed 'lead-time' document which would tie into the 'front-end' reorganization; at the same time, identifying the 'capability' and 'capacity' in our factories working under present manpower and shifts.

During initial discussions we accomplished two vital objectives: 1. To re-examine and restate the company's business purpose and focus; and 2. to use this purpose to localize people for change. We then proceeded to implement this same 'change' at LADC for we had reached a 'cross-road' (at that facility) and had to decide where we wanted to go.

Did we want to keep it at a four million dollar facility (after growing it from 1) and simply tighten up its controls, procedures and quality of personnel, or do we want to elevate it again to double the sales output with quick ship manufacturing, wood doors, packaged hardware, etc. or something in-between? We made our decision and proceeded with the four key ingredients that I believe are applicable to any business facing a 'cross-road'. These ingredients are not compatible with a 'structured' organization where all decisions run 'down-hill' and decisions are made by 'consensus' (automatic losing situation):

1. The belief that there is a single right way to do everything. Rather, we must keep up with changes in the market place and continuously go after better solutions. There is no single right way to do anything. This is even more prevalent in a distribution center twenty-five hundred miles away where they are dealing with a quicker lead-time/response schedule, stock shipping in hours and fabricated special orders shipped in small weekly schedules, and changes in over-the-counter sales.

2. The sense that authority is tied to an organizational chart. Rather, authority should be distributed among those who can do a better job for the customer. One of the reasons that LADC did not function previous to 1988 is the simple fact that they (LADC) was totally controlled from Ohio by more than one individual. In a service orientated facility 2500 hundred miles away from the corporate office this type of control cannot take place. Autonomy becomes an important key to its success regardless of who has final authority.

3. The view that the value of everything you do must be measured in dollars. Rather, the true value of an activity only counts in what it is worth to the customer. Again, this becomes more important for LADC/GVDC type operations because they are dealing with the customer, a back log that fluctuates hourly, short lead times, stock and non-stock and over the counter sales that make up 50% of the business within four counties (LA).

4. The idea that people have one skill, departments have a single function, and an enterprise has one goal. Rather, we must think in terms of multiskilled people, mutitasked teams, and the all goal enterprise. This speaks for itself. Anytime you have a satellite operation you have individuals doing multitasked functions. They must be able to respond both to vendors and to customers on an immediate basis without going through a long chain of command, especially when there is a three hour time difference and they only have so many hours to 0perate. We never totally understood that simple idea at Amweld; the fact that LADC is our single largest customer (and revenue stream) of the home office. We have had an antagonistic point of view toward that facility, whether it comes from the general sales area, the accounting department or the manufacturing facility.

There are many more layers of the 'onion' to 'peel back' to accomplish the above stated task. Many months were put into 'planners', structured 'payables', staff upgrades, duties and responsibilities, training, flexible stocking programs, reduced fabricating lead-times, sales volume and forecasts, operational daily-weekly-monthly reports, change of 'mind-set', etc. etc. It has been and is now my belief that Market Share and Profitability can be obtained in a satellite operation with Service being the main pillar of stability backed up by a variety of product flexibility integrated with speed, cost effectiveness and total integration with an overall corporate purpose.

One doesn't have to agree with any of the above, as most manufacturing guru's will attest; but the fact that very few successful companies grasp this concept is proven out by the constant closing of satellite operations as well as the loss of manufacturing capabilities within this country. Don't blame foreign countries for taking manufacturing jobs, don't even blame stupid Congress or the Local politicians; rather, look within ones own (manufacturing or distribution) make-up to find the correct blame.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Volume 73 - Health Care Bill -Enough!

As I stated in Volume 72, I've run out of the patience to dig through this piece of Bureaucratic Bullshit legislation, even if it's simply delivering the translation by way of our International Law Firm.

But it just 'pisses me off' that we Americans told our lawmakers in Washington that we wanted 'reforms' that would LOWER costs; that we wanted to insure those social programs that made sense, such as protecting Medicare; that we wanted to keep the health plans that we had but wanted reform to the prescription side of the equation as well as some 'common sense' applied to the coverages offered protecting us from the giant Health Care Companies and Pharmaceutical Companies taking advantage of us both from a extreme profit standpoint and exclusionary standpoint.

BUT WHAT DID WE GET: We got legislation from an Administration pitching this health spending bill that can't be paid for without stealing billions of dollars from Medicare; does nothing to LOWER present costs but will actually encourage the Health Care Companies to raise premiums. It does nothing to reduce prescription costs, simply encourages more prescriptions to be imported into this country. It encourages the Health Care Giants to be more exclusionary and to 'legal-ease' their programs so that denial can occur at their choosing.

We, as Americans, argued strenuously against its passage at every opportunity. We offered detailed reasons for our opposition, along with common-sense alternative reforms aimed at lowering the cost of health care while yet providing access without undermining the system that we had and for all of our efforts these same lawmakers in Washington persisted to pass this 'garbage' bill. A bill that will ultimately cost jobs as employers reduce benefits and cut jobs simply to 'make ends meet'.

I believe it is time for our lawmakers in Washington to understand that the working public, the entrepreneur, the small business person, the second and third generation of LEGAL immigrants are sick and tired of carrying those that take advantage of a system that has become so Socialized, so addicting, so anti-business, so non-accountable that it actually encourages people to do nothing because the government will take care of you. Bullshit!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Volume 72 - Health Care Bill - 3nd in Series

Health Care Reform: Grandfathering Rules and Plan Design Changes as prepared by i.2 Independence2, LLC's International Law Firm Calfee, Halter & Griswold, LLP.

This third in a series "highlights potential pitfalls under health care reform for employers considering changes to their group health plans. Any employer considering plan changes, including design changes as a way to decrease the cost of coverage before open enrollment, should evaluate the changes against requirements to maintain 'grandfathered' status under recently released regulations. Failure to maintain grandfaathered status can have signficant ramifications for employers.

Grandfathered status and its significance

Any group health plan in which an idividual was enrolled on March 23, 2010, (the law's enactment date) and which has continuaously covered an individual since this date is 'grandfathered' under the new law. This means that the plan may avoid or delay the application of some potentially burdensome requirements under the new law. These requirements include:

> nondiscrimination rules for insured plans;

> external claims review requiarements;

> additional coverage requirements such as immunization or preventive care without cost sharing;

> the extension of coverage to a child under age 26 prior to 2014 even if the child is covered under his or her employer's plan; and

> the elimination of preexisting conditions exclusions for individuals age 19 or older.

Loss of grandfathered status

Prior to the issuance of the regulations, we knew that a plan's grandfathered status would not be lost for any of the following reasons:

> participants' family members enroll in the plan upon reneewal pursuant to the plan's terms as of March 23, 2010;

> new employees and their family members enroll in the plan; or

> the plan extends dependent coverage to age 26, as required by the law.

It was not clear, however, whether certain changes would be significant enough to cause the loss of grandfathered status. The regulations prove much needed guidance about changes that trigger a loss of grandfathered status.

Under the regulations, a plan will lose its grandfathered status if:

> Employer contribution - The employer contribution rate for any tier of coverage (e.g. single, family) is reduced by more than five percentage points below the contribution rate in effect on March 23, 2010. For self-insured plans, contributions by an employer are equal to the total cost of coverage minus the employee contributions for the coverage.

> Percentage cost-sharing - A percentage cost-sharing requirement (e.g. coinsurance percentage) is increased from the plan's requirement as of March 23, 2010.

> Fixed amount cost-sharing - A fixed-amount cost-sharing requirement other than a copayment (e.g. deductible, out-of-pocket maximum) is increased by more than 15% from the plan's requirement in effect on March 23, 2010, as adjusted for medical inflation.

> Copay - A copay is increased from the paln's March 23, 2010, copay by more than the greater of: (1) $5 or (2) 15% as adjusted for medical inflation.

> Annual Dollar Limit
An annual dollar limit in place on March 23, 2010, is reduced

> New policy
A new insurance policy replaces an existing policy after March 23, 2010, (e.g. prior insurance policy is not renewed).

> Particular condition

Benefits for a particular condition are eliminated. This includes the elimination of a necessary element to diagnose or treat a condition.

The regulations provide that grandfathered status is available to each benefit package provided under a group health plan. Thus, if a single plan provides two or more medical plan options and a new policy of Insurance is obtained for only one option, then only the option covered by the new policy will lose grandfathered status.

As you can easily tell from this and the past two postings that the Health Care Reform Act is anything but 'reform'!

It should be noted that Calfee goes on with three more articles relating to this Health Care Reform, one actually starting with an effective date of March 23, 2010 and extending to January 1, 2014 giving not only the effective dates but also the 'Description' and 'Employer Considerations'. I simply don't have the patience to continue with this piece of Bureaucratic Bullshit legislation!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Volume 71 - Health Care Bill - 2nd in Series

Health Care Reform: Intermediate Range Impact on Employers and Group Health Plans (as presented by the i.2 International Law Firm of Calfee.

"Each day we learn more about how the health care reform law impacs businesses and their employees. This First Alert focuses on those porvisions of the law that become effective in 2012 and 2013 and provides highlights of newly released guidance about the small employer tax credit, the taxability of health care coverage for adult children and the early retiree reinsurance program. Longer-term impacts will be discussed in future First Alerts" (Calfee on-line News Letter).

Items that become effective in 2012 and 2013

* W-2 Reporting

"Effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2010, the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage must be included on each employee's W-2 form. Since W-2 forms generally must be porvided to employees by January 31 of the year following the year of payment, the value of employer-sponsored health coverage must first be reflected on the W-2 forms due by january 31, 2012.

* Explanation of Coverage

Beginning in 2012, health insurers and sponsors of self-insured group health plans must porvide a uniform summary of benefits to applicants and enrollees. This summary, which cannot exceed four pages, must describe benefits and cost-sharing provisions such as deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance, as well as renewability and continuation of coverage provisions; it is in addition to the summary plan description. If there is a material modification to the terms of a plan or coverage, insurers and sponsors must notify enrollees at least 60 days before the change will become effective.

*Notice Requirement

By March 1, 2013, employers must porvide employees a written notice that informs employees of the existence of health insurance exchanges, the availability of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Employers also must include in the written notice the possible loss of employer contributions (if any) toward any health benefit plan offered by the employer if employees obtain coverage through exchanges.

* Per Participant Fee

In 2013, sponsors of self-insured group health plans must pay a tax of $1 per participant to help fund comparative clinical effectiveness research. In 2014, this tax increases to $2 per participant and can increase annually thereafter based on a specified formula. Insurers must pay the fee for insured plans.

*Cap for HFSAs

for tax years beginning on and after January 1, 2013, annual health fexible spending arrangement contributions will be limited to $2,500 per employee. This cap is indexed for inflation. Currently, there is no legally mandated limit.

Updates and new information items

> Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
The government has issued guidance about how to claim the small business health care tax credit. The guidance provides rules for the calculation of full-time equivalent employees (may not exceed 25 to be eligible for the credit) and approves the use of certain equivalencies for hours of service used for the calculation of the number of full-time equivalent employees and for the calculation of average annual wages (which may not exceed $50,000 to be eligible for the credit). Receipt of state credits and subisdies will not affect eligibility for the federal credit but may reduce the amount of the federal credit. The requirement that an employer pay a unifirm percentage of employees premiums is effectively modified for 2010; an employer will be deemed to pay at least 50% of the premiu for an employee if it pays 50% of the premium for single (employee-only) coverage for 2010.

> Health Coverage for Adult Children
Plans must provide a 30-day special enrollment opportunity for all children uder age 26 by the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after September 23, 2010. This date will be January 1, 2011, for calendar year plans. The special enrollment must include a written notice of the opportunity to enroll and the coverage must begin by the first day of the plan year. Terms of the coverage for adult children, including premium rates, cannot vary based on age. The IRS has confirmed that both coverage under and payments from a plan providing coverage to an adult child that has not attained age 27 in a taxable year do not result in taxable income. Employers may immediately permit employees to make pre-tax salary reduction contributions for health insurance coverage under a cafeteria plan and health flexivle spending arrangement for adult children under age 27 during the taxable year. However, retroactive amendments to plan documents reflecting this change must be made by December 31, 2010.

> Reinsurance Program for Early Retiree Medical Coverage
Finally, the government has issued rules for the early retiree medical coverage reinsurance program. The program will become effective on June 1, 2010 and last through 2013. Applications for participation will be processed on a first come, first served basis. Since a finite amount of funds ($5 billion) have been earmarked for this program, interested employers should act very quickly. Although applications for participation are not expected to be available until late June, the information required to complete an application is listed in the new rules, so employers can start gathering the information now.

Reimbursement payments must be used to reduce the sponsor's health benefit premiums or health benefit costs or reduce health care costs for retired or active participants (e.g. premium contributions, co-payments, deductibles, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket costs. However, a sponsor must 'provide at least the same level of contribution to support' their plans. So it appears that the primary benefit of the program for plan sponsors will be to keep their premium and cost at current level."

God help us!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Volume 70 - Health Care Bill - The Act

I find it hard to believe that may last entry was four months ago. Time is going by in 'warp speed' as the economy goes in the opposite direction. In today's business world one has to not only understand 'Cashflow' but manage it as a pro; 'receivables and payables' have taken on priority of the business. An upcoming blog will certainly have to examine the 'new priorities' that exist today in Small Business; but this addition (The Health Care Bill - The Act) has been on the 'back burner' long enough.

Not only will you have to manage 'cashflow' as never before, but now you'll also have to protect your budgets even more so due to this intolerable Health Care Bill with passage this past March. There is not doubt that this was Historic Health Care Legislation; historic for all the wrong reasons! The uncertainty with some implications for employers, health insurers, hospitals, and individuals as prepared by our (i.2's) International Law Firm, Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP:

"On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Act), launching a new era of health care coverage and concerns for Americans. In a somewhat unusual twist, the much-talked-about second bill - the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Reconciliation Act) - still must be approved by the Senate before the health care law takes its final shape." (As we know, this was passed by the Senate and is law as of this writing; nevertheless, the concerns remain more than ever)

"As it stands now, some of the key provisions of the Act are as follows:

Health Insurance Exchanges: The Act calls for the creation of health insurance exchanges through which the uninsured and self-employed may purchase insurance provided by private insurers. Subsidies will be available for uninsured individuals and families who meet certain income guidelines. The Act sets forth broad parameters and creates a panel that will determine the coverage requirements and other details of the exchange operations within these parameters.

Individual Mandate: Individuals who do not purchase health insurance will pay a tax penalty.

Medicaid Expansion: The Act will increase the income eligibility for Medicaid and require states to expand Medicaid coverage to childless adults.

Employer Coverage Requirements: The Act does not require employers to provide health insurance to their employees. However, employers with more than 50 employees that do not offer health insurance to their employees (or employers that provide coverage that is insufficiently affordable) may be subject to tax penalties. The Act also imposes new requirements regarding employee waiting periods for benefit eligibility.

Insurance Coverage Requirements: The Act bans certain common insurance practices, including lifetime benefit limits and preexisting condition exclusions. It also requires insurance companies to offer coverage to adult children up to age 26. Benefit plans will also need to be amended to meet the law's new requirements.

Small Business Tax Credits: The Act creates several new tax credits for small businesses that offer health insurance coverage to their employees or purchase insurance through the separate insurance exchanges which will be created for small businesses.

Tax Increases: In addition to the tax penalties previously described, the Act contains numerous tax increases or new taxes. Insurers will be subject to an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans. there will be new excise taxes on medical device manufacturers, brand name pharmaceutical manufactures, health insurance providers, and other health-related industries, as well as on indoor tanning services. Individual taxpayers earning over $200,000 (or $250,000 for joint filers) will see a Medicare payroll tax increase and a new Medicare tax on unearned income (i.e. investment income).

Nonprofit Hospital Requirements: The Act imposes certain new requirements that nonprofit hospitals must satisfy to maintain tax-exempt status. Nonprofit hospitals must now conduct recurring community health needs assessments and adopt financial assistance policies meeting certain guidelines. Nonprofit hospitals will be subject to new limits on the charges they may assess against patients who qualify for such financial assistance and cannot undertake certain billing and collection activities.

Medicare Funding: The Act reduces federal payments to Medicare Advantage plans. It also limits future increases in medicare payments to hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and other providers."

As one can easily see, this Act does nothing for a small business that already has medical health insurance for its employees. It does nothing for reduction of prescription costs. It does nothing to stop the yearly increases to the medical coverage. What it does accomplish is to give millions of uninsured people the opportunity to gain Health Insurance for which others will have to pay; another example of 'Redistribution of Wealth.'

The Government is not able to administer such a program effectively, as history can more than prove. On the other hand, nothing is being done to regulate costs; either administratively or control of Pharmaceutical companies or conglomerate Health Care Companies. This Act simply is another example of Government control 'dolling' out benefits at the expense of those already dealing with escalating health insurance costs!

On this July 4th weekend, we should also remember within the initial Declaration of Independence writings of Thomas Jefferson the use of the word "citizens" over the scratched out word of "subjects". We are a people who are not "subjects" of a government, but "citizens"of a Republic that (at one time) recognized hard work, risk, and reward, not one that was "subject" to the control and whims of a centralized government.

As the Health Care Act develops, so will the updated translations from our Law firm.

Happy Birthday America

Monday, February 22, 2010

Volume 69 - "The Fed" - State of the Economy

I'm not sure anymore where 'sanity' starts and stops, but I'm pretty damn sure that what occurred this past Thursday rides the very edge of the logic abyss. It's either pronouncely insane or I discovered 'another' economics class that I must have (again) slept through!

The Heading for this latest 'manipulation' went something like this: "The Federal Reserve, taking its first step to normalize lending after more than two years of extraordinary actions to prop up the economy, on Thursday raised the interest rate it charges banks on emergency loans."

------STOP WAIT----"Taking its first step to normalize lending after two years of extraordinary actions to prop up the economy"----You gotta be shitting me!

This economy went into the 'shitter' in the second half of 2007. It went in that directions because of SPENDING and ENCOURAGEMENT from the Federal Government, BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS, to lend money to people who could not afford the loan. Hello!!! It went into this economic cycle because Federal (and State and Local Governments) spend more than they bring in!!! and spend on programs that are totally dependant upon funding; in other words, on some type of Socialism, not on opportunities presented by a Free market, which has the opportunity to make money within itself and simply is not a 'money pit' for some segment of society that can't support itself. It did nothing other than attempt to cover the banking industry's ass for legislation that it forced or threaten to force upon the banks. Barney Franks, et al, screaming that EVERY AMERICAN MUST HAVE THE RIGHT TO OWN HIS OWN HOME (AT WHATEVER COST)..........THAT WAS THE "EXTRAORDINARY ACTIONS TAKEN" There were no other actions taken to assist the people and businesses of this country who are the ones that make money so that the stupid idiots in Government can find more ways to give it away!

It continued..."The Fed emphasized that the increase in the discount rate, to 0.75 percent from 0.50 percent, which will take effect on Friday, did not represent a broad tightening of credit. Instead, officials said, the change was intended to discourage emergency borrowing by banks and other deposit-taking institutions when other financing is available. The modifications are not expected to lead to tighter financial conditions for households and businesses and do not signal any change i the outlook for the economy or for monetary policy..."

-----STOP WAIT-----Why is it that when 'Government' (Fed or whatever) makes a decision to enact a policy, such as the decision described above, it immediately announces it in a 'negative connotation' as this "did not represent a broad tightening of credit"? Probably because IT DOES represent a broad tightening of credit which seems impossible considering that there IS NO CREDIT! The Banks are flush; their balance sheets look great! I wonder why? Could it be due to 700 billion dollars of our money? What incentive is there for the banks to lend this money out? Even with 90% Government backed guarantees, SBA 7A programs, the banks aren't interested.

So, to cover past lending practices to people who couldn't pay back money the banks now are taking it to the opposite 'side of the table' and simply aren't lending (of course, after they got their 'Bail-out' money) and people in Washington wonder what it will take to get this country out of the worse economic depression since the thirties or at least since the latter part of the 70's when interest rates were at 21% and Carter was President.

Small Business employs over 95% of the people in this country; yet, we seem to take care of the 5% 'Too Big To Fail Guys'. Small Business employs over 95% of the working people in this country but we are insistant to pay for and take care of the unemployable, illegals, and every other foreign government's castastrophe.

Stupid is as Stupid does.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Volume 68 - Decade of Gold, Oil and Terrorism

2010 has finally arrived with the passing of the first decade of the New Millennium - finally its over! But, what did we really learn during that last debacle of a decade?

Well, for starters, we learned that Gold and Oil are still the masters of the Universe. Gold increase over 300% with Oil at 200% during that time, with 'Terrorism' becoming a common word in our vocabulary.

We learned that until gasoline prices hit $3.00 per gallon no one gives a shit!

We learned that no matter the price of gas we, as a nation, will not do anything to become self-sufficient (the same 'nothing' that we did in the late 70's and the rest of the decade)

We learned that our borders are not safe and secure. We learned first hand what it is like, as a Nation, to be attacked on our own shores.

We learned that the Government has no clue on where foreigners, students and visitors with proper Visa, go within this country nor is there a check and balance system to monitor time restraint/location once entrance is gained.

We learned that the Bigger the Government gets, the worse it becomes for the average working citizen and small business owner.

We learned that the Bigger Government becomes, the more 'and bigger the lies to the citizenry.

We learned (Again) that War serves no purpose.

We learned that there is a growing population within this country that 'demands 'their 'Social welfare'.

We learned that if there are any trust worthy Politicians, who actually care about their constituency, that number is dwindling at a rapid pace.

We learned that for legislation to pass in Congress all members must be bribed with enough 'pork' to cause them to 'sleep through a few sessions', and then vote on something that they know 'stinks' but will comply 'bribe' in hand.

We learned that if one is (declared) "Too Big to Fail" there is tax money readily available; or, there is always the midnight shift at the Treasury to print more money.

We learned that the United States nationalized more businesses in the past decade than China.

We learned that Congress had no recognition or understanding of a Balance Sheet or Income Statement.

We learned that Banking Institutions can produce Billions of Dollars of Losses within a two year period, be on the verge of Bankruptcy, continue to pay bonuses and give 'golden parachutes' for non-productive work, and then with a 'magic wand' from Congress show excellent balance sheets within a years time and pay out billions of more dollars in bonus money and (at the same time) refuse to loan money, create lines of credit, etc for Small Businesses that employ 95% of the workers in this country.

We learned that while there is certainly need for controlling cost of Health Care, providing proper Health Care to the citizenry, working out the outrageous prescription costs for medication, and a very long list of corrective actions necessary to stop this money spiral, the Health Care Insurance Companies are as greedy as Congress, who have their own private policy, and have no regard for us. We learned that there are two menaces in this arena, both equally as corrupt and evil, Congress (the administration) and the Insurance Companies.

We have NOT learned that if there is a National Health Care Program that it will go the way of the Social Security Program. It will start out as a completely voluntary program with participates paying a limited amount of monies for some sort of coverage. The amounts of money put into this program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes. Like the beginnings of the Social Security Program, which received funding that went to a 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operation fund to be used to fund the social security retirement program and no other Government program, these funds would pay for the newly signed up non-insured individual or other participates that wanted the Government type Insurance Program. The participates would never be taxed on these benefits; but eventually will be taxed. And, if by some miracle, this fund would become of size, the funds would (like Social Security) be diverted by Congress to pay for other programs (sort of reminds one of Bernie Madoff)

We have NOT learned (understood) that the U.S. has no working policy on illegal immigration; that this will continue to be a major problem to be made even worse with a Liberal Congress. Illegal Immigration should have been a major debate during the past national election but NO candidate had the presence of mind (balls) to pursue this issue then or NOW.

We have NOT learned the true value or understanding that we presently have in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution; but, hopefully this understanding will somehow be achieved before it is too late.

We have NOT learned how to implement those line items that will make our Country safe from another 911; Nor have we learned or understood the lessons of 911, and we will (unfortunately) be tested again.

We have NOT learned how to respond to a major attack or natural disaster.

We have NOT learned how to listen but rather spew rhetoric in gigantic proportions.

We have NOT learned to educate our children

May 2010 be better than 2009, and my whatever God you worship give this great Nation a little guidance.............................