March 11, 2017

It's on the table. We're on the menu

Here's an initial analysis of what the "replacement" for the Affordable Care Act making its way through the US House means to West Virginia, courtesy of the Spousal Unit:

How does the Proposed House Plan Affect You?

West Virginia residents who make $20,000 or less would lose up to $3900 in subsidies while those making more than $75,000 would gain up to $3000 each in tax credits if the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA also known as Obamacare) becomes law. Analysis done by the non-partisan, non-profit organization Kaiser Family Foundation shows tax credit by income and age in each county of the mountain state. Here's the link.

The proposed plan hurts vulnerable people and families and limits subsidies available to help keep health care affordable for middle-income people.

Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals received tax credits that reduce their income tax. Some of these tax credits are refundable, allowing the person to apply the difference to health care premiums purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

West Virginians with the lowest incomes receive the largest subsidies to get insurance under Obamacare.  The Republican plan, called the American Health Care Act, has passed two committees this week. It also provides tax credits but in a very different way. The proposed plan does not take into consideration income differences so those who make more money receive the same tax credit as those who make less. The Republican plan in essence shifts government tax credits from low-income residents to higher-income residents across the board in all West Virginia counties.

Of particular concern for residents is the fact that people who are older, lower income and live in high-premium areas will be especially disadvantaged under the proposed plan.

For example, under Obamacare, a 60-year-old making $20,000 in Kanawha County currently receives $13,560 in tax credits to help pay for health insurance premiums while a 60-year-old making $75,000 has no such tax credits.

A Kanawha county resident 60-years old and making $100,000 would receive a $1500 tax credit under the proposed Republican plan while the current plan offers none.

A similar story plays out in all of West Virginia’s counties. Because the Republican plan is linked to age rather than income, people in their 20s receive fewer tax credits than their older neighbors.
Insert quotes here from elected officials and their stance.

West Virginians wishing to discuss their concerns may reach elected officials at the following numbers:

Representative David McKinley (1st District* ) Office in: Washington (202) 225-4172;Parkersburg (304) 422-5972; Wheeling (304) 232-3801

Representative Alex Mooney (2nd District*) Office in: Washington (202) 225-2711; Charleston (304) 925-5964; Martinsburg (304) 264-8810.

Representative Evan Jenkins (3rd District*) Office in: Washington (202) 225-3452; Beckley (304) 250-6177; Bluefield (304) 325-6800; Huntington (304) 522-2201.

Senator Joe Manchin III Office in: Washington (202) 224-3954; Charleston (304) 342-5855; Eastern Panhandle (304) 264-4626; Fairmont (304) 368-0562.

Senator Shelley Capito Office in: Washington (202) 224-6472; Beckley (304) 347-5372; Charleston (304) 347-5372; Martinsburg (304) 262-9285; Morgantown (304) 292-2310.

* Congressional Districts can be found here.

March 05, 2017

Philosophical bugs

It's interesting how references to animals show up in philosophy. Plato put in a good word for some dogs in The Republic, comparing their traits of bravery and loyalty to guardians of the ideal city.

Hegel remarked that the owl of Minerva (Roman name for the Greek wisdom goddess Athena) "spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk." I take that to mean that we mostly figure things out when they are over--or when it's too late.

Wittgenstein said that if a lion could speak we couldn't understand him (I disagree with him for reasons elaborated here).

Isaiah Berlin wrote a famous essay about foxes and hedgehogs, quoting a Greek poet as saying that "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

I recently stumbled on another philosophical animal reference from Francis Bacon (1561-1626) from his New Organon:

Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.
I don't usually think of myself as a Bacon fan, but that is a pretty good way of stating the need for balance between data and perspective.

Plus, bugs are cool.