Why is Voter registration made so complicated?

Social security numbers are assigned at birth and everyone including the homeless have one as long as they were born in the United States or came here legally at some point. People have to have a driving license to drive on roads in the United States irrespective of the state you live in. You can opt to be an organ donor on applying for your drivers license. The case being made here is that the facility exists to automatically register citizens to vote given that the DMV must know your age and who you are to issue you a license. This would address the issue of people moving from one state to the other. According to this article, some states like Oregon have already made it the responsibility of the government to ensure that every citizen is registered to vote.

65% of potential US voters were registered in 2012 according to Census data.

Pew Research ranks the United States as 31st of 34 in turnout at 53.6% of the eligible voting population turning out to vote, also based on the 2012 election. But this 53.6% number is based on the estimated number of total voting eligible citizens (241 million) in the country, not on those citizens actually registered to vote.

So 65% of 241 million were registered which comes out to 156.6 million people and 53.6% of 241 million actually voted which is 129.17 million. Then of those registered to vote, 27.43 million people did not vote.

As a percentage of registered voters, that is 17.5% of registered voters who did not vote.

So if one was to ensure that the other 35% of voters not registered were automatically registered to vote that would equate to 84.35 million additional registered voters. Again if we assume that only 17.5% of those will not vote (it could be higher), that would be an additional 69.6 million people voting in National elections.

As this article posits and the numbers above show, the issue is not one of voter turnout but one of voter registration.

I realize that this topic over laps the issue of the voter id requirement but we absolutely have to simplify the voting registration process so that everyone who has the right to vote can get to vote without their ability to vote being meddled with.

This is supposed to be a democracy where everyone of age who is not a felon gets the option to vote irrespective of the perceived intelligence or lack of intelligence behind the same.

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Kim Davis – Kentucky clerk

It is amazing to me how many people persist in thinking that this issue is about the freedom to practice your religion.

Lets lay out the timeline:

  1. Supreme court rules that gay marriage is legal and subsequently the law of the land.
  2. This means that this law supersedes any and all current state laws on gay marriage.
  3. Kentucky clerk who is an elected official and is duty bound to abide by the law and offer services of the state to ALL citizens irrespective of her personal beliefs decides that this is against her religious beliefs.
  4. At this point, a rational citizen would realize that if an official has been elected who cannot fulfill the duties of a position due to their personal beliefs, then said person should consider resigning their position.
  5. However, Kim Davis as County clerk instructs her staff to issue no marriage licenses in Rowan County under threat of termination if they do. This act in and of itself shows the kind of person this woman. She has already at this point used her authority as County clerk to enforce her beliefs over those she has authority over.
  6. ACLU sues Davis and Rowan County on behalf of 4 couples, 2 straight and 2 gay.
  7. District Justice David Bunning orders Davis to issue licenses to gay couples which Davis appeals to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay.
  8. The 6th Circuit declines to offer a stay on Justice Bunning’s decision and the Supreme Court also refuses to hear the case and instructs Davis to obey the law.
  9. Justice Benning holds Kim Davis in contempt and sends her to jail until she agrees to do her job.
  10. And the religious extremists come out of the woodwork yelling to anyone who will listen about religious freedoms and the lack thereof as a result of this case.

This woman is NOT being denied the ability to practice her religion. She can choose to practice any faith she chooses. However, if the requirement of a government job is to have a secular view because citizens of this country can be of any faith which includes no faith, and Kim Davis cannot meet this requirement, a person of higher morals would find another job. She is literally attempting to cheat tax payers out of their rights to service on the basis of her religious conscience while receiving a check from the state of Kentucky. Taking a high moral stand on marriage is simply being a hypocrite when you know that you are deliberately choosing to continue to be paid for a job/role that you are not willing to fulfill. Lets not even talk about the hypocrisy of someone who claims to be Christian abusing a position to inflict her judgement on others. I for one am glad to see that the kind of oppression that can come from tyranny in the name of religion is being treated appropriately.

The future in countering tax evasion

Italy is using a tool called redditometro to look for tax evasion.

The new tool, known as the “redditometro,” or income measurer, aims to minimize the wiggle room for evasion by examining a taxpayer’s expenditures in dozens of categories, like household costs, car ownership, vacations, gym subscriptions, cellphone usage and clothing. If the taxpayer’s spending appears to be more than 20 percent greater than the income he or she has declared, the agency will ask for an explanation.

This is an interesting approach in that it focuses on the black market portion of the economy. One could argue that the result of this will be that income generated and not declared would simply not be spent or purchases would be made in cash. Such purchases wouldn’t have an electronic signature to be traced. Wouldn’t there be the potential for an increase in black market type transactions in a society where monitoring for tax purposes went to this degree?

It would be interesting to find out where the tax authorities are getting their data and if the acquisition/purchase of data would be considered legal. If a credit card company is selling your data, would you be ok with the data being sold to the IRS? If this happened in the United States, would there be outrage? Would consumer spending drop? Might a consumer not want to pay for a gym membership that requires an automated form of payment like a credit card or a debit from a bank account? A consumer may not want to upgrade that car they used to upgrade every 2 years for fear of ending up on a list. In an economy that is driven by consumer spending, this might be a very bad thing. Supporters might ask why a tax payer would care about the use of such a tool if they are above board in declaring their income in the first place. Similar to the arguments that are made on the relevancy of encryption to citizens if you have nothing to hide.

When someone that you don’t know stops you on the street and asks you how much you spent and exactly what you spent your money on yesterday, your response might be to look quizzically at them and say that “That’s none of your $$$$ business”. Why would this not be the same response made to tax authorities?  And yes, they should have the ability to request and validate your income since that is what taxes are paid on after any deductions you may have. As citizens, we pay taxes because of the constitution:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Amendment XVI

The intent of this article is not to provide a summation of all of the positives and negatives of such a thing happening in the US but rather to pose the question for thought.




Healthcare costs

Other than the fiasco that is https://www.healthcare.gov/, if there were to be major reforms of the Affordable Health Care act, what do you think they would be?

We will venture our opinion on this below.

  • Increase competition
      • Insurance firms in each state are protected from interstate competition by the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act (1945) – otherwise known as Public Law 15, which grants states the right to regulate health plans within their borders. Each state must explicitly allow insurance carriers from other states to offer policies in their state. All 50 states regulate Health Insurance but only 7 states have enacted law to allow health insurance to be sold within their state by out of state insurers. The proposed fix in this case would be to repeal the exemption of Health Insurance from Federal Anti-Trust law or provide encouragement to states to pass laws to allow inter state commerce in the case of Health Insurance.

    What is particularly annoying about the original exemption of Insurance from Federal Anti-Trust was the argument used to support the position. “the business of insurance is not commerce, either intrastate or interstate”; it “is not interstate commerce or interstate trade, though it might be considered a trade subject to local laws either State or Federal, where the commerce clause is not the authority relied upon.”

  • Reform tort law to reduce litigation.
    • There is no doubt that there should be recourse for cases of negligence in the provision of medical care. Ideas to accomplish the reduction of frivolous lawsuits include capping settlements or forcing the losing party to pay costs if they are the plaintiff.

However; based on Twenty years of evidence on the outcomes of Malpractice claims:

Malpractice outcomes bear a surprisingly good correlation with the quality of care provided to the patient as judged by other physicians. Physicians win 80% to 90% of the jury trials with weak evidence of medical negligence, approximately 70% of the borderline cases, and even 50% of the trials in cases with strong evidence of medical negligence.

Our comments: So, this infers that if a physician is sued and the physician has exercised risk management against malpractice suits which hopefully does not include running unnecessary cover your butt tests AND the physician has provided good care, the risk of losing a lawsuit is significantly lower than it actually should be based on peer review. So, is tort reform really necessary? Is this simply a case that if the provider is providing the quality care they should be and practicing due diligence in communicating with the patient and documenting all the facts of the case, then the risk of losing because of malpractice law suit are severely diminished as the numbers represent? There might be some point to making the plaintiff pay court costs in those cases that are dismissed at trial time but this would be particularly unfair in those case where the ruling has gone against the plaintiff and there were grounds for winning. As noted above, 50% if trials with strong evidence of medical negligence are lost at trial. Perhaps a screening process before a trial goes to court which provides an opinion on the merits of a case. If the plaintiff proceeds to trial against the recommendation of the panel and subsequently loses, then the plaintiff and his attorney should be responsible for all the defendants court costs. This would significantly reduce the burden on the legal system and reduce court costs for the defendant in the case where the suit is deemed without merit from the perspective of malpractice.

  • Decrease costs for insurers to practice nationally. If a carrier has to meet regulations which are different across states they offer policies in, then the cost of doing business is higher. The cost of licensing in each state is also high.
  • Review the legality of Most Favored Nation clauses and provide more guidance for what is/is not allowed in relationships between sellers/buyers in terms of MFNs. MFNs were designed to be pro-competitive but each is unique and while one may increase competition where for example : seller1 is forced to provide buyer1 the lowest price offered to all their buyers (competitive), another may be anti-competitive in that it doesn’t allow a seller(1) to sell to another buyer(2) at equal or lessor prices than buyer(1).

Poll indicates watching no news is better than watching Fox News



MSNBC and CNN ran a close second to Fox in terms of how informed the respondents were which indicated the worth of those 2 sources. Those who watched no news if they answered the survey accurately did better by guessing at the answers than those who watched Fox/CNN and MSNBC. Unsurprisingly, NPR viewers got the highest number of questions answered correctly for both Domestic and International affairs. According to the original PublicMind poll,  NPR also have the second lowest percentage when respondents were asked which news sources they got their information from over the last week at 28%. And surprisingly, The Daily show was lower at 13%. Fox/CNN/MSNBC were listed at 4th/5th/6th at 55%, 51% and 44% respectively with local TV news being 1st at 76% and local newspapers being 2nd at 72%.

On average, people correctly answered 1.6 of 5 questions about domestic affairs.

That is a pretty sad statistic. Given the outcome of the poll, it does not bode well for our nation when partisan news sources result in consumers referencing those sources being even less informed than those who reference no news sources.

This brings to mind a term used in George Orwell’s book Nineteen eighty four called Newsspeak

Newsspeak – a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime.”

We are not suggesting that a totalitarian state is the goal in the case of Fox, CNN and MSNBC but there is something awry with a free press which is apparently free to deliberately interpret the facts about events as they choose with the intent to mislead a specific demographic of people who in this case choose to be willing participants/consumers in the misrepresentation of facts or spin because such misrepresentation/spin supports their own world viewpoint. This portion of the free press is pandering to a specific demographic of people for profit and doing so in a dishonest way. What is the difference between this and what trash magazines like The National Enquirer do?  What is happening may not be the same as Newsspeak but the level of partisanship in politics currently  is being contributed to in no small way by this spin reporting for profit with big money interests behind how the news is being reported.

Shadows of Liberty from Link TV is a fantastic documentary about the dark side of the for profit US corporate media.

“In highly revealing stories, renowned journalists, activists, and academics give insider accounts of a broken media system. Controversial news reports are suppressed, people are censored for speaking out, and lives are shattered as the arena for public expression is turned into a private profit zone. Tracing the story of media manipulation through the years, Shadows of Liberty poses a crucial question: why have we let a handful of powerful corporations write the news?”

Our conclusion: Support your local NPR

Murdoch’s Free press


This article from Media Matters discusses what Fox PR Staffers were doing back in 2000 as David Folkenflik writes in his forthcoming book Murdoch’s world. We haven’t read it yet, but it will be in our hands by Wednesday and we will be sure to review it in an upcoming post.

Mandatory spending and Medicaid


This chart from a report by the Congressional Research Service on Mandatory Spending Since 1962: highlights the problem when it comes to Mandatory spending in pretty stark terms. Note the projected 8% increase from  2012 – 2022 and the correlation to the Medicaid portion of the chart. Medicaid provides health care to those with low incomes. It’s funded by general revenue from both the Federal and state governments, and is administered by the states. This is what policy makers are talking about when they discuss controlling/reducing the cost of healthcare and why healthcare is such an important issue.  The report concludes with the following statement:

Reducing the federal deficit significantly by cutting spending without reducing mandatory spending, and in particular entitlements, would be difficult. Further reform of the health programs may be needed to eliminate long term fiscal strains while preserving the goals of these programs.


Are you in the American center

centerAccording to the Benenson Strategy Group who were the pollsters for Obama in 08 and 12, the center is alive and kicking and comprises 51% of the electorate and growing. The following is a high level synopsis of the article with more nuts and bolts and pretty graphs and charts in the original article.

Lots of people in the center do not consider themselves to be in the center. The center is mostly white and turn off when diversity is discussed. They do not like the 2 party system or politicians. They trust Democrats more than Republicans. They believe God plays no part in politics and own guns but have no problem with background checks for owning a gun. The center believe that people should get help from their government when they need help for their basic needs (food, health) but that the government should leave everyone else alone. Focus on domestic rather than issues outside the US. Spend/Regulate less. Raise taxes on the rich and on polluters. They support drilling, the death penalty and being accountable for your own actions. 44% of them believe the Democrats and the Republicans get it wrong most of the time.

This definition of center is based upon comparing the views of 2,410 nationwide registered voters who even though may have identified themselves as Republican/Democrat/Tea Party/Independents did not fit the typical mold for those identifiers based upon their views.

Russian Roulette..

  1. The National Debt includes securities, bills etc. offered to investors that provides said investors the confidence that the full faith of the United States is behind the payment of the yield on said securities. This facilitates not only borrowing on the part of the government but also a savings/investment/management vehicle for investors/banks/businesses/other governments.
  2. Investor confidence in the ability of the US to pay its bills impact the % yield the US Treasury has to pay on notes offered to investors. If confidence is down because of the possibility of default or unstable politics, then the interest rate offered goes up to attract investors. Mortgage interest rates closely correlate to these interest rates.
  3. The cost of interest payments on the National debt would go up if confidence in the US went down – ironic given the Republican stance on reducing the national debt while concurrently risking the reputation of the United States fiscally.
  4. Tax revenue pays for the costs of the debt and is used to pay down the debt.

So given all of this..

  • Republicans have a focus on the National debt and they should as should all of us voters at $40k per capita in National debt equivalency as a nation.
  • Republicans have a focus on never raising taxes. It is called the Grover Norquist Taxpayer Protection pledge. In light of how tax revenue is used with reference to the debt, it seems short sighted to eliminate it as a potential tool if paying down the National debt truly is so important to the conservative base.
  • Republicans want to reduce spending. But if you don’t raise taxes, and you reduce spending, and you play Russian Roulette with the confidence of the rest of the world in the US currency by brinksmanship politics, how do you grow the economy? Oh wait, reduce taxes you say? But what about that rise in interest rates that also affects the economy both domestic and globally as a result of extreme politics with little regard for consequence. Oh that, that won’t happen you say. Just like the Treausury won’t run out of money soon just because you happen to not believe the US Treasury.
  • Republicans want to reduce entitlements, no issue there. Raise the retirement age and fix affordable health care. But wait, Obamacare is bad, we want to repeal it completely. How do you know? The exchanges just went into effect on Oct 1st. Oh, you just know. Just like you knew the Democrats would cave on negotiating the repeal of Obamacare as part of the funding of government and the debt ceiling debate. Got it, and that’s worked so well thus far.

How can one debate with people who appear to live in an alternate reality unless you believe that their position is deliberate and malevolent?

Can we please get back to moderate politics, pretty please and cut these tea party folks free from the Republican party so that they lose their position of negotiating power? How this could be done would be interesting but it is apparent that they don’t want to govern or be governed. Whether it is deliberate or not, the result is that their actions infer that they want to destroy the ability of government to actually govern.


Notes of interest


  • Fidelity has sold off all Short term US government debt due in October/Early November.
  • America’s AAA rating was cut to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s in Aug, 2011 after the last exercise in brinksmanship. Is another cut possible or inevitable given the current gridlock and an upcoming potential default on October 17th? Below are some of the comments from S&P on the last cut.

We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the
prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related
fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the
growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an
agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and
will remain a contentious and fitful process