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Health Care Reform Going Down the Right Path?- Politics

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Health Care Reform

I have strong feelings against a Washington-Government run health care system and I believe that while health care reform is badly needed in our country, I believe that the current bill is missing some core elements and passage of this bill puts us all at risk for a bureaucratic health care system that looks eerily familiar to a VA system.

Please watch the video below for a full outline of my thoughts and share with us in comments what you think about the current health care bill:

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Paul Kendall

    November 1, 2009 at 11:52 am

    So what you are saying is that the united states of America is such a messed up and dysfunctional nation that it is not capable of providing basic services to it’s people the way that the rest of the civilized world is able.

    Unfortunately I am starting to agree. The nation is dominated at the “no we can’t” crowd who simply don’t believe that it’s possible to improve this nation.

    Lani. It’s too bad that you and people like you have such a low opinion of America.

    • bficker

      November 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      Where did Missy (not Lani) say that she has a low opinion of America? All she did was merely point out the problems that we do face. Ignoring the quality of care in a VA hospital does not make the quality better (Full disclosure, I have no idea what the quality of care in a VA hospital is).

      Get off your high horse. If you want to make this country better, you have to see where the problems are and figure out ways to fix them. Taking away the people’s ability to choose their providers doesn’t fix anything. Forcing people who can not afford insurance in the first place, to get health insurance or face a fine from the IRS, doesn’t solve anything.

      Time after time, things get worse when the Gov’t gets more involved. The Constitution does not give the Gov’t power to control health care. The Gov’t is supposed to protect our rights. And yes, that means the people’s rights above those of the insurance companies as well. Real reform would be to allow you to cross state lines to get health insurance from somewhere that may be cheaper.

      You and I should not be forced to cover the medical bills of others. I eat well and exercise regularly. I have not had to go to the hospital in years (maybe 2x times in my life). Why should I be responsible for someone fills their grocery cart with junk food (yet always grabs dite coke. Weird, right?) and hasn’t been off the couch, except to move to the car for some fast food? Yes there are people who truly need help with their health care. You would be amazed at the charity options available. People step up to do the right thing when it is their choice, not because they are forced to.

      Sorry if that was all over the place, but to recap: Dissenting does not mean someone hates America. It probably means they love it more!

  2. Lani Rosales

    November 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Editorial note: the original article incorrectly indicated that I was the article author which has been amended to note Missy as the author.

    That said, I will take this opportunity to respond directly, Paul. It is evident that you did not take the time to watch Missy’s video because if you had, you wouldn’t be accusing anyone of being in a “no we can’t” crowd, given that Missy noted that health care IS in need of reform and subsequently outlines what is wrong with the current bill and some steps we could take to fix the system.

    In this particular case, I completely agree with Missy and echo her sentiment (that has been my own for quite some time) that health care reform is useless without tort reform or the ability for insurance to cross state lines. No one mentioned a low opinion of America, in fact, Missy has consistently supported our nation and you might be surprised the sacrifices she has personally made on behalf of our country.

    Paul, if you would like to watch the video (and do so noting that she indicated change was needed (and possible) but that her opinion is that this particular bill is defunct) and return with a measured response, I would love to debate the merits of each side.

    • Paul Kendall

      November 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      To be clear. My feedback was not adressed at Missy’s comments regarding tort reform and portability of health care. I agree with her (and you!) on those points.

      Indeed I watched the video. Missy admits to not having read the bill – but she claims that because it has more words than the koran then it must surely be untenable. Yesterday two clients told that that after the health care bill is passed then all hospitals will be run like VA hospitals – which apparently means huge amounts of bureaucracy.

      The reason why I describe Missy’s comments as a “no we can’t” attitude is that they silently buy into the premise that anything government run must inevitably be bureaucratic and inept.

      I am starting to agree because the attitude becomes self-fulfilling. So many Americans buy into this “no we can’t” premise that attempts at reform get watered down and undermined until they become ineffective, which then adds weght to that premise.

      I invite you to question that premise. There are plenty of examples of reasonably well run and valuable government programs. Why shouldn’t the infrastructure implemented by the current health care bill be one of them?

      The rest of the civilized world has universal health care. Why shouldn’t the United States?

      • Lani Rosales

        November 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

        Paul, if you can tell me that Medicaire is a successful program that is run flawlessley, I’ll consider changing my mind about ALL health care being behind red tape as a good move. I don’t doubt the abilities of the individuals who could execute a government run program, or the intentions of the politicians (I’m not being facetious) pushing the bill, but if so many small programs related to the health care industry that are ALREADY run by the government didn’t run like crap, I’d be on board but Missy is right- our government, no matter how wonderful, trustworthy and respected, adds an element of red tape that is completely unnecessary- just fix the damn thing… you can’t put a bandaid on a sliced throat.

      • Jim Duncan

        November 2, 2009 at 6:56 am

        Paul –

        The reason why I describe Missy’s comments as a “no we can’t” attitude is that they silently buy into the premise that anything government run must inevitably be bureaucratic and inept.

        Please tell me one government program/service/department that proves that government has the capacity to effectively implement anything with efficiency.

        I’ll start:

        IRS
        Pentagon
        Transportation

  3. Bob

    November 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    This bill is 2000+ pages and hasn’t been read in its entirety by anyone voting on it, yet Pelosi wants a vote in a week.

    No one knows what the per person cost is going to be, but given the fact that the cash for clunkers deal cost taxpayers @ $25k per car and the $8k tax credit costs @ $45k each, I can only imagine what this will cost per person.

  4. MIssy Caulk

    November 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Paul, let’s be clear…I do think everything the government runs is inept. There I said it.
    I can’t think of one successful program. Medicare, Social Security, Post Office, Public Schools, Banks, GM, Freddie, Fannie….it is all a mess.
    Government does not make money. We do and support the programs with our tax dollars.
    Things can be improved with Health Care…no doubt. But, not a total take over by our Federal Government. Have you seen all the different departments that will be added to just make the program run?
    Our deficit at the end of September was 1.4 Trillion. That is unsustainable and we are about to add 1/4 T more to it. The President has said repeatedly he will not sign any bill that adds “one dime” to our deficit and yet this will. I look to the 2 states that already tried this…TN and MASS. Look what happened there.
    The countries that have Universal health care are loaded with problems. They are also not Free Market Economies. They are socialist.
    Both political parties have grown the federal government…one party is not to blame in this.

    • Paul Kendall

      November 1, 2009 at 10:05 pm

      Missy. Thanks for stepping in. I appreciate hearing from you directly.

      Again, you seem to be saying that the United States of America is so dysfunctional that it is unable to provide basic services to its people, even services that in the rest of the civilized world are regarded as basic civil rights.

      I got a lot of flack for pointing this out, which is strange since I seem to be the only one on this thread who believes Americans can aspire to do better.

      What do you mean when you say that countries with universal health care are “loaded with problems”. I am sure that no nation has a perfect system, but ask an Englishman or a Canadian or pretty much any European if they would trade their current system for ours and I bet the answer would be a resounding “NO!” Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

      Indeed in England there has been a backlash against American opposition propaganda suggesting that the British system is substandard. While there are issues with the National Health Service, there is also general consensus in British society that the NHS is an essential part of the British social structure. There has been wide resentment about the misinformation spread by American opponents.

      Again, I’ll repeat the question I asked earlier in this thread. Why is it that the United States of America cannot provide universal health care, when the rest of the civilized world does?

  5. Greg Cooper

    November 1, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Just an additional stat from the release of the Pelosi bill this week. Page 94 section 5, “as of January 1, 2013 it will be illegal to sell private health care insurance in the United States of America.” So much for choice, so much for freedom and so much for the lies of the President of the US, the Speaker of the House and all of the other socialst/facists who want nothing more than to control 20% of the nation’s economy. It’s not REMOTLEY about better health care. It’s about power and control. We’re about to lose ours.

    • Paul Kendall

      November 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

      > Page 94 section 5, “as of January 1, 2013 it will be illegal
      > to sell private health care insurance in the United States
      > of America.”

      Greg

      Maybe you could provide a link to the text in question. There has been a huge amount of misinformation put out by opponents of the bill and often times tiny fragments are taken out of context in an attempt to mislead a gullible public.

      I tried googling the text you mention and don’t see the quote. Are you sure you are quoting accurately?

      • Jim Duncan

        November 2, 2009 at 7:05 am

        I can’t seem to find that line either:

        https://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-3962

        I did find this snippet which seems to not put any limits on spending regarding postpartum depression. And frankly, the fact that the federal government is trying to legislate to the specificity of postpartum depression is depressing.

        (e) Authorization of Appropriations- For the purpose of carrying out this section, in addition to any other amounts authorized to be appropriated for such purpose, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2013.

        It’s like an escalation clause in real estate with no limit!

  6. MIssy Caulk

    November 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks Greg, I will go read that part, as I said I have not read the whole 1990 pages. But, I know that is what your are saying about power and control.

    If not they would just adjust the things that need adjusting.

    If it such a good plan…why are the government officials participating? Oh yea they don’t do Social Security either.

  7. Bob

    November 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Greg – the loss of freedom isnt going to be just personal, but national if this admin has their way. How much does one get for selling a nation’s sovereignty these days?

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    November 2, 2009 at 1:03 am

    OMG Missy THANK GOD you guys LOST the election.

    I already punched the tort reform red herring full of holes and you guys are STILL harping on the same old stuff. Tort reform is a single shot cure that MIGHT reduce costs 2%. All the evidence by the other side of the argument was so weak, they actually substantiated my point. In a system of managed care – tort reform has no impact on costs. It’s such a red herring. None of this addresses the overwhelming issues of

    1. Lack of access to medical insurance through
    a) premiums that are unaffordable
    b) pre-existing conditions
    c) patient dumping when someone gets sick.
    2. The fact that 1/3 of all bankruptcies are medically related.
    3. Exponential increases in health care costs.
    4. Denial of appropriate care with enormous red tape.

    All you can come up with is this? The VA issue has a lot to do with BUSH cuts. It is the perfect example of “starving the beast” to prove that the government can’t help. He created an environment where failure was the only possible outcome…then you say “you see, the government can’t make anything work.” I like you Missy, but this is nonsense. It’s the same free market cowboy mentality that got us into a fiscal nightmare. Conservatives are regurgitation the same-old stuff over and over and over and over. It didn’t work over the past 30 years so let’s try something NEW! Let’s support the working stiff!! Let’s support the middle class. If that means we need to protect them from the rapacious greed of “free markets” through regulation and government support…lets TRY IT!

    I agree with Paul…conservatives have become the party of “no we can’t.” Or perhaps its more “No we won’t!”

  9. Ruthmarie Hicks

    November 2, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Oh Btw,
    If you truly want to be “fair and balanced” and you want to write politcal posts..it might be a good idea to bring a card-carrying liberal on board. This is starting to look like the far-right wing of the republican party with absolutely NOTHING from the other side.

  10. Stillwater Real Estate

    November 2, 2009 at 1:29 am

    To be blunt – posting this here is bullshit. Don’t tie your political views to a real estate blog by talking about a PA for two physicians.

    Benn – If you want this to become a political platform then start another website. Last time I checked the AG logo said “the future of real estate today”

    • Benn Rosales

      November 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

      Ben, the National Association of Realtors is one of the largest political lobbies on the planet, and has a position on this that virtually parallels that of this post, yet you say politics has no place here? Agents should absolutely debate these issues and this magazine is one of those places. Our curiosity is whether the PAC really represents the sentiments of its constituents.

      Sundays mornings are set aside for commentary regardless of political leaning, and views do not represent the position of AG or its writers as stated in our TOS. We welcome anyone with opposing views to participate.

  11. Russell Shaw

    November 2, 2009 at 2:01 am

    I have read in Business Week that VA hospitals deliver some of the finest quality medical care available at any hospital anywhere.

    Just thought I would toss that in here. 🙂

  12. Lani Rosales

    November 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

    For the record, we outlined NAR’s position on health care reform back in August and it’s worth a read.

  13. bficker

    November 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Peter Schiff is probably the smartest guy in the room, no matter what room that is. Watch this video of him explaining the problem with Gov’t being involved in health care: https://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=27304

  14. MIssy Caulk

    November 2, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Peter Schiff is also the ONLY one that predicted a recession when everyone was poo pooing the idea.

    Ruth Marie, I like you do. It’s ok to disagree politically and still be Realtor Associates.

    Russell, the VA has fine doctors at least here in A2, it is the wait for tests, paper work etc…that slows the system down. Many physicians have privileges at both.

    To those who think Benn should start a different blog…why? They ( Benn and Lani ) feel it is important to talk about national issues, I agree. It is done on Sunday morning a time when AG typically didn’t have posts. Second, as they say about porn, if you don’t like it move on, don’t log on or don’t read the political posts. I personally like a healthy debate, and a difference of opinion on issues that effect us all.

  15. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    November 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you, Ruthmarie, for weighing in. I came late to the party.

    Has anyone thought that Government might not have to step in to the degree that they have if private industry (insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, et.al.) had decided to seek profit while, at the same time, benefiting society at large? Look, no one is against profit and capitalism, generally. It seems that this unrestrained greed of a few (hundred? thousand?) are causing a huge breakdown of the system.

    Why is it that every time libertarians disagree with something they trot out “no one has the RIGHT to [insert whatever here]”? Oh! But let’s not forget to praise the Lord and love our neighbor on Sundays between 10:00 and noon.

    It is for all the reasons that Ruthmarie points out that Government is compelled to step in. If private industry could devise a system that promoted the well being of the society, as a whole, there would be no need to Government intervention.

    Finally, before I married and carried what I consider to be bare bones catastrophic health insurance (since Realtors are not part of a group) my premium was prohibitive and went up 10% per year whether I used it or not. I joke with my wife that the only reason I married her was because she had great health insurance (full disclosure: she’s a nutritionist with the USDA. So she is one of them).

    At least I tell her it’s a joke. 🙂

    • bficker

      November 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      “Why is it that every time libertarians disagree with something they trot out “no one has the RIGHT to [insert whatever here]“?”
      Um, because they don’t have the right to [inset whatever here]? If the Gov’t doesn’t have the power to control health care (which it doesn’t), why give up that right?

      That statement seems so absurd, I don’t know what your point is. Give me an example where it is better to give up our rights to the Gov’t. It’s not every time we disagree with something, it’s every time the Gov’t tries to take away more of our rights or take more control. i.e. The Patriot Act, funding private companies/industries, healthcare, etc. (Also, I’m not sure what the church stuff you said has to do with anything. The Libertarian view is that you can believe what you want, just don’t impose your beliefs on me).

      On a side note, the private market WOULD come up with ways of handling this process if there wasn’t Gov’t intervention. But when the Gov’t subsidies specific positions (workplace health insurance, oil over alternative energies, etc) you no longer have a free market. People are blaming the real estate melt down on everybody but the Gov’t. Sen. Dodd and Frank were the ones who pushed for low-income/sub-prime lending. Many of these loans would not have been made if the free market had anything to do with it. With Gov’t intervention the rewards seemed greater then the risks.

  16. Teri

    November 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Paul-

    >There are plenty of examples of reasonably well run and valuable government programs.

    Such as…?

  17. Russell Shaw

    November 2, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Any statement that the meltdown in the housing market was “caused by the government” is a false statement (as in just not true). The meltdown was “caused” by criminals working for companies like Bear Sterns and AIG. The Bear Sterns thieves alone cheated French, Chinese and German Bankers out of hundreds of *billions* of dollars.

    They mixed total crap loans (that Fitch, Moody’s and S&P gave AAA ratings to) that would have been C+ paper – at best – with an occasional decent loan and sold it off endlessly. After the dot.com crash in 2000 that money started chasing real estate. With the no money down, no credit loans then available to investors (NOT from FHA) there was an artificial demand created for houses so new “investors” got into the market in a very big way.

    Criminals running unchecked caused the problem. Everyone else gets to pay for it.

    • bficker

      November 2, 2009 at 11:55 pm

      I’m not trying to imply that it was solely the Gov’t’s responsibility. For sure, there were multiple players involved that stole billions from a lot of people. That being said, when you have legislation pushed through (I can’t remember the name of the bill right now, I’ll find it) to help low-income/sub-prime borrowers get mortgages when interest rates are artificially pushed down (to spur spending) you can’t ONLY blame the guys who took advantage of it. It’s like if a bank leaves a bunch of known criminals in the bank with the vault open after hours. Now they are surprised the criminals took everything from the vault! Yes, the criminals should be prosecuted, but they only took what was up for grabs because the Gov’t put it in front of them.

      You can’t put scotch in front of an alcoholic and then get pissed when he drinks it. And yes, I couldn’t figure out what metaphor I wanted to use 🙂

  18. SteveBeam

    November 3, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Oh- I love and look so forward to the Sunday posts. Always gets me going.

    I think the government cannot run anything reasonably or well. I know of nothing run well by the government and you can take that from the Federal level all the way down to the State run Department of Motor Vehicles. They ALL stink.

    The government we have elected right NOW like them or not is trying to take over the country. They are on a power grab mission and will stop at nothing to get it.

    Heath Care for us all would be great but how can anyone with sanity even think about supporting a bill that not one person in this country has read or even understands? Come on people wake up and think about it. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on it doesn’t work with this bill.

  19. Jim Duncan

    November 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I find it amusing (and endlessly frustrating) that no one can cite one well-run government program that demonstrates governments’ ability to reform health care.

    • Paul Kendall

      November 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      People here seem to forget that the United States of America is a nation that in the space of just two hundred years developed from a backwards and repressed colony to the most prosperous nation on earth.

      During that time Americans developed an extensive network of roads, a rail system, bridges, dams, an unsurpassed communications infrastructure, a widely respected legal system, and a system of parks that protect some of the most beautiful landscape on the planet. During this time the United States put a man on the moon, intervend againt a brutal and expansionist european dictator, and overcame some shameful aspects of its own history to work towards a society that offers opportunity for all.

      These things and countless other physical & societal infrastructure made the united states the envy of the world.

      The United States Government played a very active role in all of these achivements. Some were developed purely as “government programs,” but most in partnership with pivate enterprise.

      Its easy to point fingers and complain about flaws in the society we have. There are certainly defficiencies in many public initiatives. But if you make perfection your bar then you will effectively block any attempt at change. Perfection is unachiveable. There will always be deficiencies. A more relistic goal is to aim for improvement over what we have right now.

      Over the last 30 years or so it seems that a growing number of people have lost faith in this nation. Many people complain about programs instituted for the common good and some even work to undermine them. There has been a lack in investment in the future while so any people seem to take their prosperity for granted.

      In the mean time, nations such as India and China and those in eastern europe are taking huge strides towards educating their citizens, developing infrastructure, and growing their economies. All this while Americans quibble over whether to provide basic services to its population.

      If you believe in the future potential of the United States of America then I believe we need to invest in that future. Our future prosperity is not free, its something that has to be worked towards and invested in. It means making big decisions and taking leaps of faith.

      On the other hand, if, like so many people in this thread, you beleve the United States is so dysfunctional and messed up that our future is doomed, then maybe hunkering down and living off the investments of the past is the way to go.

      • samantha

        November 22, 2009 at 8:19 am

        I dont think anyone here is against America at all. I think that they are against the dysfunctionality of the “GOV” maybe they have done a few good things in the past but by FAR more harm than good. I think me and all would agree that America and it’s people have done more good than the GOV ever has. That is the hard working, christian, and back bone of the country. Not people that take away our rights as human beings to make our own decisions and take complete control over every aspect of our lives in order to take everyones money.

  20. Russell Shaw

    November 4, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Jim Duncan wrote: “I find it amusing (and endlessly frustrating) that no one can cite one well-run government program that demonstrates governments’ ability to reform health care.”

    Although I am not “pro-government”, I believe I can name a few: libraries, fire departments, national and state parks, trash collection, police departments, etc. 🙂

    • Benn Rosales

      November 4, 2009 at 1:46 am

      Aren’t they all underpaid and underfunded? Seems like I’m always hearing of some sort of cut backs with those 😉

  21. MIssy Caulk

    November 4, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Our trash collection is private where I live. So our our libraries, police, fire departments and state parks. I know some of our Sheriffs Departments cover our small townships and they have to pay for them, it is not a given. A big deal up here where we are run my Villages and Townships.
    Yes I had thought of the National Parks too, although I don’t know that much about them.

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Politics

California’s gig labor bill hurts the people it’s trying to protect

(POLITICS) The law has loopholes for industries with good lobbyists, but it’s costing independent contractors, freelancers, and creatives their jobs.

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Uber subverts ab5 bill

So, there’s a new bill in California, Assembly Bill 5, that’s doing immense harm to freelancers across the state and throughout the country. The bill was intended to prevent tech companies from taking advantage of their employees by branding them as freelancers. But the thing took too wild a swing, and a lot of people have gotten hit by it.

We’re going to talk about how and why, but let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat:

We absolutely need something to help workers in this country. When we talk about why AB5 doesn’t work, I want to be very clear that I’m not turning my nose up at the idea of something like it. Rather, it’s this specific law that’s hurting a lot of people.

Let’s take a quick review at the environment that gave rise to Assembly Bill 5:

We live in an incredibly rough economy for most people. The stock market is doing phenomenally! But the stock market isn’t the same thing as the economy. The economy is made of people who are barely getting by, propping up a class of billionaires who are hording an amount of wealth that is increasing at a mind-boggling pace, instead of “trickling down”.

Productivity and wages used to rise together, but they got divorced in the 70s, and productivity’s been doing a lot for herself while wages have just sort of lazed around on the sofa, getting drunk. Productivity has grown 6 times more than pay since 1979. In the last ten years, the costs of education, housing, and medical care have ballooned, while the minimum wage has held steady at $7.25/hour. Not only is this financial climate hard for the average American, it’s going to be hard for a LOT of people, when the purchasing power of the middle class dwindles away to nothing and the bottom drops out of the whole contraption.

And there’s plenty of room for it to keep dropping! Because it turns out that a LOT of tech’s “innovation” just means “circumventing labor laws in ways that nobody’s made illegal yet”. Sometimes the tech world finds cools ways to get money and opportunities to people. Think of crowdfunding, or subscription services like Patreon that let middle-class artists do their thing sustainably.

But often, you instead wind up with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Favor. Rideshare apps view their drivers several different ways. They tell the government that they’re independent contractors. Drivers often claim that they’re running a small business, with the rideshare app’s help. Internally, (and to the SEC) they think of their drivers as the customers. The people who call for rides aren’t the customers—they’re the product that the app delivers to their customer, the driver.

What all of this means is that rideshare companies don’t have to pay minimum wage. They don’t have to offer benefits, like time off or healthcare. If the people who work for you are your customers, instead of your employees, you don’t have to take care of them the same way. (Funny how that works out, right?)
And in some ways, I can see the temptation to do things this way. Insurance is expensive, and it’s kind of wild that we make employers pay for it. Somehow saddling small businesses with that expense is considered the “conservative” option; I’ll never understand how that’s supposed to be good for the market. We’re the wealthiest nation in the world, and yet we’re just about the only country that puts the burden of healthcare on business owners instead of the government.

But here’s the thing: That’s how health care works in this country! It’s what we have. We have a public option, technically. But it’s been systematically gutted to the point of uselessness, intentionally, by people who resent it being passed in the first place. So until we get some kind of national healthcare system, it’s on business owners to make sure that their employees don’t die because they can’t afford medical care. That’s the law, and that’s the ethical thing to do in our current situation.

And tech companies tend not to like that. So we get situations like Uber, where people who are clearly employees are being framed as literally anything else. Because the companies hiring them would rather burn millions trying to render their employees obsolete than spend that money keeping them alive. (Fun side note: Remember when one of those self-driving cars killed a woman because Uber forgot to tell their AI that humans can exist outside of crosswalks?)

And just like I understand why companies would try to dodge those costs (even if it’s clearly wrong), I also understand what AB5 was trying to do. They’re trying to close that loophole. They’re trying to stop companies from BSing about who is an employee and who isn’t. That makes sense.

So the bill defines freelancers with help from a court case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018). The main features are

1. Is the worker free from the control and direction of the hiring entity. Is the person who hired them telling them where, how, or when to do the work?
2. Is the work being performed outside of the normal course of business for the hiring entity?
3. Is this work that the worker normally does, independently of this one business relationship? Do they genuinely have their own business in this field? Or is this “freelancing” something they’re just doing for one company?

You can immediately see some huge questions raised here. Among them:

– How strict do you define “telling someone how to do their work?” Because I’ve never had a creative assignment that didn’t come with some sort of deadline, right?
– How do you define “the normal course of business?” The normal course of business for a magazine involves hiring dozens of writers to write hundreds of pieces. Does that stable of writers suddenly get smaller if you can’t afford to give them all benefits?

And we’re already seeing fallout from this. Large multimedia platforms, from Vox to CollegeHumor, are laying off huge swaths of their staffs. Under the new law, writers aren’t allowed to submit more than 35 pieces in a year and still be considered freelancers. That means that these outlets were going to have to either cast a much wider net for their bullpens, or cut their staff and focus on a core group of (presumably grotesquely-overworked) people. Unsurprisingly, they chose the latter pretty universally.

And it’s not just writers. Musicians are getting hit, too. A petition to secure an exemption is nearing 50,000 signatures on change.org. Any creative endeavor other than “a day job with a desk at Disney” is going to involve a network of people floating in and out as projects start and end. There’s a lot of room for exploitation, and there’s a lot of room for quashing that exploitation. But right now, this bill is mostly just putting people out of work.

And just like California’s (much-needed, fantastic) privacy protection laws are having an impact across the country, (because you never know if the data you’re collecting is on a Californian!) so too is their (terrible) freelancing law rippling out. Because work doesn’t happen in offices anymore. It happens everywhere. I recently released a song with musicians from six countries performing on it. That wasn’t even something I was trying to do. That’s just where my friends were!

Now, my piece was just me getting together with some friends to have fun. But professional recordings happen that way, too, all the time. And right now, if the person on either the hiring or performing side of that equation is in California, that relationship is in jeopardy.

And of course, the really fun thing is, that a lot of the industries that were intended as targets of the bill are sidestepping it with court challenges. And many industries lobbied for exemptions, meaning that real estate agents, CPAs, lawyers, surgeons, referral agencies, and lots of others were exempt from the get-go.

So what we’re left with is a law that’s meant to protect people. But many of the people it should’ve protected aren’t covered by it. And many legitimate freelancers are getting screwed out of business relationships that they used to rely on. The big publications that they used as cash cows to pay their bills are either capping them at 35 articles, or letting them go altogether. It’s not hard to see that this is wildly misguided, and that it’s causing more harm than help. We’ve got to pump the brakes on AB5 and try to figure something else out.

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Politics

How USMCA is different than NAFTA and if/when it will finally be passed

(POLITICS) The USMCA should be set to replace NAFTA early in the year, which will help small business and real estate alike with easier trade.

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USMCA signing

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has been a priority for President Trump, is one step closer to replacing NAFTA. Amid the impeachment hearings, the House of Representatives passed the USMCA by a vote of 385-41. The Senate must still approve the agreement, but according to CNBC, once the Senate gets back in session in January 2020, the agreement will pass.

The USMCA is a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was informally agreed upon by President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2018. However, each country’s legislature must approve the agreement before it is ratified. Mexico’s legislature has ratified the agreement, but Canada has not. It is anticipated that the agreement will be re-introduced to the Canadian Parliament this session.

What’s the difference between USMCA and NAFTA?

NAFTA was created to reduce restrictions on trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States. It was to increase market access and investments between the North American countries. President Trump has referred to NAFTA as “the worst trade deal ever made.” The USMCA builds on NAFTA, but does alter some of the provisions. It’s unknown when the agreement will go into effect. Canada has not ratified the agreement.

How will the USMCA affect small businesses?

The official text of the USMCA hasn’t been released, but we do know a few of the provisions. The biggest impact for businesses may be in the automobile industry. Under USMCA, 75% of auto components must be manufactured in Mexico, U.S. or Canada to be eligible for zero tariffs. Under NAFTA, the figure was 62.5%. In addition, by 2023, 40% of workers who assemble cars or trucks must make at least $16/hour.

The USMCA reduces the timeline for brand-name biologic prescription drugs to be produced as generics. Some popular biologics include Humira, Lantus and Botox. Another key component of the agreement is opening the Canada dairy market. US farmers can now export up to 3.6% of Canada’s dairy market. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) supports the USMCA because it will make it easier for real estate investors to travel between the countries.

Although the USMCA is not in effect yet, it does seem likely that it will be ratified this year to provide more opportunities between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

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Politics

FFEE Act wants to save you from having to pay to freeze your credit

(POLITICS NEWS) The FFEE Act wants to help give consumers more rights more control over how credit agencies use their data.

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impulse ffee

Taking action

Following the compromise of consumer data from credit reporting bureau Equifax, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced the Freedom From Equifax Exploitation (FFEE) Act.

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This act aims to give consumers more rights more control over how credit agencies use their data.

The bill

The bill is available here, but here is a few of the bill’s highlights:

  • Create a uniform, federal process for obtaining and lifting a credit freeze.
  • Preventing credit reporting agencies from profiting off the use of consumer information for the duration of a credit freeze;
  • Strengthening the fraud alert protection from 90 days to a one year, with a year renewable.
  • In ID theft cases, a 7 year fraud alert is created.
  • Require any credit reporting agency who charged a fee to freeze credit in response to the data breach to refund those fees,
  • Allow for an additional free credit report (consumers already get one under the Fair Credit Reporting Act through annualcreditreport.com)

Freezing credit

The most important feature here is the removal of any fee to freeze your credit. Currently, agencies like Equifax charge nominal fees to freeze credit (anywhere from 3-10) dollars. If this bill passes – not only will that service be free, but it will restrict the way credit agencies use that information while the freeze is active.

The idea behind making this free also keeps credit companies, whom many believe are responsible for the security of credit information, from profiting off information breaches. Given that many financial advisors have advised those impacted to freeze their credit, this would be a benefit to consumers.

It is important to note here that Equifax has suspended the fees to freeze credit for the next month.

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. Simply put, it requires the credit agency to contact you first to ensure it was you who applied for credit, thus making it harder for you to apply for credit. You would need to unfreeze your account to apply for new credit. You must also freeze credit with each bureau, which can lead to some expenses as you must pay anytime to lift a freeze.

Remember: a credit freeze doesn’t impact current accounts or your credit score. If you apply for credit often, or open new accounts often, then a credit freeze may not be for you.

Lots of names

The bill has several original co-sponsors, including Senators Sanders, Franken, and Blumenthal. Companies like the National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform, CREDO, and the Consumer Federation of America all have also endorsed the bill.

#CreditFreeze

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